The Elm City officially welcomed its first Brazilian steakhouse two weeks ago when Mayor Toni Harp cut the ribbons for The Taste of Brazil — which sits next door to city hall on 135 Church St.
The Taste of Brazil, which serves a buffet of salad dishes and meat cut to order, opened its doors for lunch on March 14 and began its full dinner service after the April 12 grand opening. Owner Tiago Pavuna immigrated from Brazil 14 years ago and brings over a decade of experience to the Northeast’s Brazilian steakhouse business. Pavuna added that he decided to open The Taste of Brazil in New Haven last year after seeing the city did not yet have one of his country’s famed steakhouses.
At The Taste of Brazil’s grand opening, Harp praised the restaurant for bringing a new product to the mix of selections downtown, which has seen the opening of new Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese eateries in recent months.
“To be sure, this evening’s event signals another vote of confidence for New Haven’s core,” Harp said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Tonight we welcome A Taste of Brazil to New Haven — literally and figuratively — and acknowledge the time and effort its owners and managers have put into it.”
Pavuna and his business partner, Linalva Coelho, started their journey to opening the store last November when they bought the location from its previous owner, Chick-Lets Organic Grille — a restaurant that specialized in chicken. Pavuna added that business was slow at first but has steadily increased as word spread throughout the city.
As Elm City residents trickle into the Brazilian steakhouse’s doors, they will taste the Elm City’s first Brazilian offerings, including fried cauliflower, bacon chicken and garlic sirloin. Pavuna’s restaurant is the most recent in a series of new international cuisines to arrive in the Elm City.
Pho Ketkeo opened on 21 Temple St. in April as the first Laotian restaurant in downtown New Haven. Duc’s Place, a Vietnamese eatery, became the city’s first brick-and-mortar Vietnamese location this April when it opened on 167 Orange St.
Like the owners of Pho Ketkeo and Duc’s Place, Pavuna expressed excitement at serving a medley of spices, aromas and flavors not yet offered to New Haven residents.
“I really believe in my product and I just want people to taste what we have here,” Pavuna said. “To have a taste of Brazil and the rest — all of the food — is going to do the work.”
Several students interviewed expressed excitement at the store’s opening. Mallet Njonkem ’18 said he heard about The Taste of Brazil through Facebook when an international student from Brazil posted a photo of its grand opening. Njonkem, who is enrolled in an intensive Portuguese class and will travel to Brazil this summer, said he is eager to sample the cuisine he has been learning about.