Por Renato Ghio
Gilvano Amaral, Ananias Luis and Rubens Alves de Silva can attest to the fact that opening a restaurant is not easy. It takes hard work and many sleepless nights. It can be overwhelming and exciting. It can also be a dream come true.
And that’s exactly what Planeta Brazil in Danbury is, said Rubens, his dream come true. Located at 48 Newtown Road in Danbury, Planeta Brazil is a traditional Brazilian steakhouse. This is the first restaurant for the three business partners. Rubens has worked in the restaurant industry for years, but becoming an owner brings things to a whole new dimension. Gilvano and Ananias both work in the construction industry, and continue to run those businesses in addition to the restaurant. The restaurant just opened at the end of November. “It’s full of surprises,” laughed Gilvano about the experience so far. “It’s exciting. We’re learning as we go,” added Ananias.
What sets Planeta Brazil apart from other Brazilian restaurants in the area is the tableside service. Gilvano explained that the Danbury area lacked a classic rodizio restaurant, a nice place for families and friends to come, sit down and enjoy not only good food but also the dining experience. They wanted to create something not only for their fellow Brazilians to enjoy, but also something that introduces the rest of the community to their culture. “We’re trying to be the pioneers here in Danbury,” he said.
In addition to the fixed price all-you-can-eat rodizio, Planeta Brazil’s menu offers appetizers and sandwiches as well as desserts. They also have a fairly extensive cocktail menu, with specialty drinks like caipirinhas, classics like an old fashioned, beer, wine and even desert cocktails. Alicia and I both had a caipirinha. Alicia went with the passion fruit flavor, and I went with the classic lime flavor. They go down easy. Dangerously smooth.
So, onto the meal. At a rodizio style restaurant, waiters come to the table several times throughout the meal with skewers on which various meats are prepared and they carve your portion right there. Each customer is given a colored card; place it green side up for “yes, I’ll have some of that” or place it red side up if you want to pass. You pay a fixed price, which includes all the various meats as well as side dishes such as fried yucca, collard greens, beans, rice and more, served buffet style. However, don’t fill up on the side dishes; this dining experience is all about the amazing meat.
At Planeta Brazil, Monday through Wednesday, there are six meats available and Thursday through Sunday there are ten meats to sample. We had top sirloin, beef brisket, chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, chicken wings, spicy pork sausage and pork ribs. Cooked over charcoal, everything had a wonderful grilled smokiness to the flavor. Everything, even the chicken breast, was juicy and incredibly tender. The crispy skin on the chicken wings was fantastic. We loved the snappiness of the spicy but not too-spicy pork sausage.
And while our focus was on the meat, we did try some of the side dishes. We both had collard greens, rice, beans and fried plantains. Alicia added some fried yucca, whereas I went straight for the feijoada. We both liked that the greens still had some firmness to their texture. I loved the smoky flavor to the porky feijoada.
As finale to the meal, the waiter came back around to the table one last time to carve some fresh grilled pineapple. It was the perfect way to cap off the feast. We could not eat one more thing; there was no room for dessert.
“We want to offer the best we can,” said Ananias. That they did. We’ll be back and next time we’re bringing friends.