If you've heard of the gorgefest known as the Brazilian steakhouse, where diners are served by South American cowboys who slice off heady chunks of meat from skewers onto your plate, you've probably heard of Fogo de Chão.
In the 90s and 2000s, this Brazilian chain popularized the concept of churrasco, or Brazilian barbecue, in the United States. Today you'll find these restaurants in major U.S. cities like Chicago, Dallas and more recently Scottsdale, where João Zanrosso worked.
He's one-third of the team opening the new Churrasco de Brasil at the Tucson Mall this October. Business partners Adão Giovanaz and Elmir Bernardon are also alums of the renowned steakhouse chain, where each of them climbed the ranks to managerial and directorial positions over the last three decades.
The three Brazilian nationals decided to go it alone last year, and chose Tucson after touring the country looking for the right spot.
"We were always working for big companies," Adão said. "We thought, maybe it's time for us to go on our own company. We decided to put it together with the three of us, so we can work and also still enjoy family quality time."
Opening in the 8,700-square-foot building that used to house Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar at the Tucson Mall, the new Brazilian steakhouse will be similar to the successful Fogo concept. Diners will pay a yet-undetermined fixed price which includes trips to the 30-item salad bar and as much meat as you can handle. Diners will flip over a red card to display a green color when they are ready to begin, signaling the meat servers to come to their table.
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Dressed in the traditional gaucho clothing of Southern Brazil, the servers will offer up 12 to 15 different types of lamb, pork, chicken and beef. This includes the iconic picanha or sirloin cap, which comes out in half-ovals topped with a thick layer of fat. The gaucho servers are a pivotal part of the experience at the Brazilian steakhouse; They not only serve, but butcher and cook the meat themselves. That's why the team is bringing in experienced Brazilian chefs to work the restaurant.
The chef cooks only the outside of the meat, leaving the inside rare until it is ready to be sliced. After serving customers, they will return the meat skewer to the fiery grill for another quick round of cooking. At Churrasco de Brasil, the grilling process will be on full display through an open window. The meats, which will be sourced from quality farms throughout the U.S., are seasoned only with rock salt.
The salad bar will also include items like imported cheeses and cured meats, smoked salmon and the Brazilian black bean stew feijoada. Churrasco de Brasil will also have a full bar and curated wine selection, with cocktails like the Brazilian caipirinha made with the sugarcane liquor cachaca. There will also be nonalcoholic drinks like the Brazilian soda Guaraná.
The restaurant will also have three separate rooms that can accommodate private parties.
Churrasco de Brasil will be located at 150 W. Wetmore Road.