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THE BEST: Rodizios/Churrascarias in NYC


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I've read a lot about Plataforma. . . but it's in Times Square and apparently noisy and. . . well I'm an little suspicious. Any opinions about what the best churrascaria in New York (any of the five boroughs) is?

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Of the various ones I have tried, Plataforma is the most consistent and consistently the best. This wasn't necessarily true several years ago, back when Master Grill was a serious contender. But the competition has really fallen off.

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All these places are noisy. They're supposed to be like big parties. The concept can't work without a certain critical mass.

Plataforma, at this point, is really the only game in town.

It is on 49th Street, by the way, over West of Eighth Avenue on a relatively sleepy block by Midtown standards. I wouldn't quite call it a Times Square restaurant. More like the Western edge of the Theater District.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I agree. Plataforma is the most consistent, which ends up making it the best. It is a fine choice with a lively group - when you're making noise, you're far more forgiving of the noise around you. The atmosphere, particularly on the nights when the band is playing, is close to what I saw at a similar place in Sao Paulo.

For the concept to work, you need a big place with a lot of customers - there is no no other way to create consistency and the necessary stream of different meats, not to mention a "fresh" salad bar. Plataforma does this and does it well.

One tip - ask for the black beans when the side dishes arrive. Sometimes, they don't bring them unless requested, and they are always good. Enjoy.

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Thanks guys. Plataforma it will be. FG, point well taken about the noisiness. I was imagining a certain type of Times Square restaurant but knowing now that Plataforma isn't that, I guess I can only say I'm duly reassured.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I'm sure you already know to arrive with a ravenous appetite - Plataforma is the best rodizio I've tried but is also by far the most expensive. Last time I ate there was over three years ago and the tab for three people with three Cokes, one dessert and two coffees was about $200 with tax and tip.

Perhaps others who've been more often can confirm if it's a valid suspicion - it appears that the cheaper meats are brought first - chicken, sausage etc.. I suggest passing on the first few items that bring or sharing those with a fellow diner. The better meats all arrived later when I was close to being full.

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Some tips on Plataforma:

1. For the noise: request a table away from the musicians.

2. For the cost: order as few extras as possible. A couple of caipirinhas, a bottle of wine and dessert can really add to the cost. However, to put Owen's prices in perspective: 200 bucks for three is not that bad. It's 35 bucks a pop just to get in the door, which is around 140 with tax and tip. Add another 60 bucks for 3 soft drinks, two coffees and a dessert plus tax/tip... not that bad. 66 bucks a person for all you can eat roasted meat is pretty good for NYC.

3. Don't fill up at the (excellent) salad bar.

4. It's okay to say "no thanks" to things that don't float your boat, either taste-wise or luxury-wise (chicken thghs and sausage or whatever). Also, don't be tempted to take seconds when they bring around stuff you've already had. They probably have tons of stuff you haven't had yet. Just tell the guy "we've already had that... what else do you have tonight?" Ask for chicken hearts.

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It's 35 bucks a pop just to get in the door, which is around 140 with tax and tip.

Cover charge for the live music? Do they have live music all the time? What style? Samba?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It's 35 bucks a pop just to get in the door, which is around 140 with tax and tip.

Sam - it was well over three years when I went and it was close to $40 each to get in - it's now up to $44.95 plus tax and tip (according to their web site). Pretty steep for roasted meat but the atmosphere, location and quality certainly justify paying more than one does in Newark. I think a comparable rodizio there would be about $25 - $30 tops but with a much less upscale atmosphere. In Newark I've eaten only at Seabra's rodizio on Rte 29 McCarter Highway. It was good but the meat was a bit too salty and the salad bar was no comparison to the one at Plataforma - their salad bar (if you have an appreciation for that sort of thing) was far and away the best I've ever encountered.

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Living so close to Ironbound (its a 30 minute drive) I see no reason to go into NYC and eat at Plataforma.

Rodizio is supposed to be salty -- it is what it is. That being said, my favorite place to eat it in NJ is Seabra's Mediterranean Manor, on Jefferson Street in Newark.

BTW I have also heard that Seabra's Rodizio is not as good as Mediterranean Manor, which is considered to be more upscale (they recently underwent an extensive rennovation). Be it that it may, I've never eaten at Seabras Rodizo.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Plataforma has opened a branch in Tribeca, just up the block from Layla (221 West Broadway, near Franklin).

You might also check to see if these places are still extant:

Churrascaria Girassol, in Astoria, Queens(718-545-8250)

Green Field Churrascaria, in Corona, Queens (718-672-5202) -- the first in NYC, I believe.

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I ate at the TriBeCa branch of Churrascaria Plataforma 2-3 months ago. I don't recall having any objection to the noise level. For the amount of great food you get, it is very fairly priced. Remember, it's "all you can eat."

Perhaps others who've been more often can confirm if it's a valid suspicion - it appears that the cheaper meats are brought first - chicken, sausage etc.

This didn't appear to be the case. The servers are just roaming all night long, and it seems to be a matter of chance what order the dishes reach you. After we'd already turned our coasters to red, the manager came over asked us what we'd liked best. He then implored us to turn them back to green, found the servers of those items, and sent them back to our table so we could have more.

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Perhaps others who've been more often can confirm if it's a valid suspicion - it appears that the cheaper meats are brought first - chicken, sausage etc.

This didn't appear to be the case.

in my experience at Churrascaria Plataforma, and at every rodizio, this has been the case.

Edited by tommy (log)
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Same here.

Not that I mind. It so happens that the cheaper items tend to fall properly at the beginning of the progression of the meat parade. You work your way up from poultry to pork to beef, with various frolics and detours in between.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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We try to get to Ironbound once a year for good churasco and always end up at a place UPSTAIRS in a downtowny kind of area but I don't remember the name.

my favorite place to it in NJ is Seabra's Mediterranean Manor, on Jefferson Street in Newark.

Is that the place? It was very friendly, not that expensive, and good quality.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

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I think the place Johnnyd refers to is Brasil or Cafe Brazil - I've heard others mention it favorably and believe it's a second story spot on Ferry Street.

Rodizio is supposed to be salty -- it is what it is. That being said, my favorite place to it in NJ is Seabra's Mediterranean Manor, on Jefferson Street in Newark.

I agree that it's supposed to be salty but the meat at Seabra's Rodizio was much saltier than any I've had elsewhere - almost unpleasantly so - it was a bit heavby handed. And I like salt :biggrin:

I suppose the logical progression of meats makes sense but knowing that this is the typical progression.... for those without huge appetites I still suggest skipping the chicken and sausage or sharing it to save room for the other cuts of meat. they will always bring chicken or sausage back around if you want some.

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We try to get to Ironbound once a year for good churasco and always end up at a place UPSTAIRS in a downtowny kind of area but I don't remember the name.

I'm pretty sure you're talking about Brasilia, 132 Ferry St. Awesome picanha.

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Perhaps some of you beef experts can assist me... I've been to a churrascaria once, in Danbury, CT. Although the salad bar was extremely good, the meat I thought was just so-so, especially the beef. For one thing, it was almost always well done, and for another the cuts were kind of tough. Also, the sirloin looked unusual. It had a spiral-ovalish shape on the skewer, I was wondering if it was a different cut of beef than standard sirloin.

I am strongly considering either Plataforma or Wolfgang's to take my (birthday boy) son and his pals to before our viewing of The Daily Show in a couple months. I figure teenage boys can consume mass quantities of food, so that favors Plataforma...on the other hand quality matters as far as I'm concerned and I'm the one footing the bill.

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Perhaps some of you beef experts can assist me...  I've been to a churrascaria once, in Danbury, CT.  Although the salad bar was extremely good, the meat I thought was just so-so, especially the beef. For one thing, it was almost always well done, and for another the cuts were kind of tough.  Also, the sirloin looked unusual.  It had a spiral-ovalish shape on the skewer, I was wondering if it was a different cut of beef than standard sirloin.

I am strongly considering either Plataforma or Wolfgang's to take my (birthday boy) son and his pals to before our viewing of The Daily Show in a couple months.  I figure teenage boys can consume mass quantities of food, so that favors Plataforma...on the other hand quality matters as far as I'm concerned and I'm the one footing the bill.

The spirilish cut you mention is the picanha, or top sirloin. I believe this is a cut that can only be found is Brazilian/Portuguese markets and restaurants. It is usually served with a nice strip of fat attached, which in my opinion adds tremendously to the flavor of the meat and should be eaten along with each bite. Much like a hangar steak, if this cut is cooked beyond medium rare, it's ruined. The cut is usually covered with kosher salt before grilling, then it is shaken or tapped off the meat when the spit is taken off the grill.

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I had never been to one of these places until last week. I went with my uncle in Dallas to a place called Fogo de Chao (spelling?). I went with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the meat seemed of good to excellent quality and was perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the ability to select small samples of a wide variety of meats and cuts, and whatever temperature one wanted was readily available. One nice advantage to this method of service that hadn't occurred to me was the fact that if done properly, one is always eating meat that is hot and just off the fire (chiarascura, BBQ, whatever it's called). We ate leisurely for several hours, and never had to worry about about our steaks growing cold. The lamb chops and filet were particularly good at this restaurant. Overall, it was a fun way to pass several hours and try all kinds of meat. I'll have to try Plataforma in NYC sometime.

Not sure about the price of the meal in Dallas because I wasn't paying. I would say if Plataforma is of similar quality and is $45 for the all-you-can eat service, it's a relative bargain in NYC.

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Compared to the meat served even at a mid-level steakhouse, like a Morton's or a Ruth's Chris, the meat at Plataforma (and every rodizio place I've visited, which is a lot of them) falls far short of that standard. We judge steakhouse steaks by a combination of tenderness and flavor, and most gourmets prefer them medium-rare. Most of the flavor experience, moreover, is about the meat, supported by an exterior char.

The rodizio aesthetic is completely different. Most meats are cooked through or cooked at least to medium. They are not tender but, rather, flavorful -- often these two attributes are in conflict. The flavor experience is partly about the meat, but it is part of a trio that includes the char and seasoning. The larger cuts, in particular, are repeatedly put back on the fire to create char, and the slices served to you are from the outside of the piece of the meat. Using such a system, anything less than medium doneness (and really more like medium-well) would be quite difficult to achieve.

For a steakhouse lover to enjoy the rodizio experience, then, I think it is important to let go of one set of preconceptions and look to a different model, one more appropriate to the genre. Once you do that, and particularly if someone else is paying, an evening at Plataforma can be quite fun.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I had never been to one of these places until last week. I went with my uncle in Dallas to a place called Fogo de Chao (spelling?)....

Not sure about the price of the meal in Dallas because I wasn't paying. I would say if Plataforma is of similar quality and is $45 for the all-you-can eat service, it's a relative bargain in NYC.

I think you may be referringf to the same place I tried in Dallas when there for training. Our host was footing the bill and we had quite a large group (30 people or more). I found the meat at the Dallas rodizio to be of comparable quality to Plataforma, but Plataform had more space between tables and a better salad bar.

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