Brazil is a diverse country. Its population is a blend of European, African, Middle Eastern, Asian, and indigenous people.
When I first heard of the restaurant Bossa Nova, the song “The Girl from Ipanema” came to mind. The Bossa Nova style of music came about in the 1950s and 1960s in Brazil and became popular all over the world. This eatery, Bossa Nova, is yet another addition to the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City, and it brings authentic Brazilian cuisine for New Yorkers to enjoy. The food at Bossa Nova is down to earth, home style cooking, with seemingly unlimited flavors, textures, and colors. This cuisine, influenced by Brazil’s diverse cultures and ethnic groups, creates a delightful culinary experience. The setting is casual, the prices fair, and the service is warm and friendly.
Bossa Nova’s menu is comprised of an almost endless array of traditional and regional Brazilian food with rice and black beans and a potato-like root, mandioca, to accompany the different types of meats, fish, and chicken. The food is heavy and delicious with colorful and tasty ingredients. The complicated, thick stew, fijoada, made with spices, black beans, beef tripe, and pork knuckles, served over greens and rice, slow cooked in clay pots is available on Fridays and Saturdays, is an experience by itself.
Chef Marcio Braga told me that he loves to cook, and that he helped his mother who owned a place similar to Bossa Nova when he was 14 years old. “I love to cook, and I cook here and at home. He said. “As soon as I finish work here, my wife calls me to see when I am going home, and what I am going to cook for dinner.”
My friend and I decided to try a few of the favorites. We had the most popular dishes. For appetizers we had the Linguiça com Mandioca, made with the famous Brazilian sausage and yucca; the Lula Frita, fried calamari with tomato sauce on a side; Balinho de Arroz, rice croquet with fish; and one of my favorites, Frango a Passarinho, bite-size fried chicken sautéed in white wine, garlic, and lemon. What stood out for me was the chicken that was perfectly done, well cooked on the bone with lots of garlic and lemon. The flavors and textures explode in your mouth. My friend mentioned something that I thought was very interesting. I enjoy eating meat on the bone, but I did not realize why until my friend pointed out to me that it makes one more mindful of what one is eating and, therefore, creates more enjoyment and appreciation for the food. She also loved the rice croquet that looked like a great little parcel. The ingredients were well-balanced, and combined with a crunchy skin, contrasted with the soft rice inside.
Brazilian ingredients are a major staple of Brazilian cuisine with exotic fruits and vegetables, like coconuts, guava, beans, cacao, coffee beans, and nuts. For instance, cashews appear in many of the dishes. These ingredients are showcased in the fabulous dish Camarão no Côco—a signature dish and a favorite true taste of Brazil. Mashed potatoes are mixed with coconut milk and heavy cream. The heavy cream is diluted to allow for the heavy flavor of the coconut milk, then mixed with sautéed mushrooms, placed inside a coconut shell, and topped with the sautéed shrimp. With this dish you get a sense of the tropics. The shrimp, though sautéed, had a nice, smoky flavor, and the goodness keeps pouring out with every spoonful.
If you are in the mood for meat, I recommend the skirt steak special. It is a favorite and another signature dish. The steak is marinated with different spices, grilled, and smothered with a brown sauce for a nice BBQ flavor. Portions are large and the dish can be shared. The steak, at once tender and flavorful, is served with mashed potatoes or the common Latin accompaniments of rice, black beans, or fried potatoes.
Enjoy a caju, which has a nutty flavor, and it is refreshing. Or try one of the Latin classics, a mojito, or the caipirinha, the citrus-infused Brazilian cocktail, with your food or with the starters.
Brazilians are known for their sweet desserts and coffee. The coconut pudding laced with melted chocolate is rich with textures and sweet coconut flavor.
Live music Wednesday through Saturday starting at 7 p.m.