When Mineola’s Churrasqueira Bairrada reopened June 13, the landmark Portuguese restaurant had come through more than the coronavirus: In December, it had been shuttered by fire.
In fact, said manager Hector Carvalho, the dining room was not yet complete — a container full of furniture, tiles and other decorative items had been delayed on its way from Portugal — but the charcoal grill was roaring away in the kitchen and takeout service commenced. By June 21, a tented outdoor dining room had opened in the parking lot and, with its tiled floor and tableclothed tables, it looked like it had always been there.
Bairrada, founded in 1992 by Hector's father, Manuel Carvalho, was one of the first Portuguese restaurants on Long Island to specialize in rodizio: the tradition of all-you-can-eat grilled meats that started in Brazil, a former Portuguese colony.
From my seat, I watched a table of four enjoy the carnivorous onslaught. Eight times, the masked waiter approached with skewers stacked with bronzed beef, pork, sausage and chicken. Alone, I tackled a generous platter of roast pork loin (juicy and piquant), fried rounds of potato (exemplary) and sauteed broccoli (garlicky but otherwise undistinguished).
Bairrada has pared its dine-in menu down to its greatest hits: Besides rodizio ($41.75 / person) there are grilled steaks, chops, chicken and fish, most of which hover around $35. Lunch specials for around $20 include my pork, grilled chicken breast or tilapia.
Walking through the restaurant to get to the outdoor dining room, I could tell that the indoor dining room is on its way to being a departure from the old Bairrada — it’s cool and contemporary, dominated with massive, stylized photos of Portugal. Hector said that takeout and outdoor dining were keeping everyone busy and that “we are taking our time with the inside.”
Churrasqueira Bairrada is open every day but Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 144 Jericho Tpke., Mineola, 516-739-3856, churrasqueira.com