By LINDA BLADHOLM
A boteco is a casual place to eat and drink with friends and family in Brazil. Some use crates for tables and chairs, others have plastic furniture with beer logos. Here in Miami, Boteco Brasilian Bar was built on a vacant lot two years ago by Italian Stephano Carniato, who also owns Piola pizzerias in Miami and abroad. He lived in Brazil and fell in love with the culture. When he returned to Miami he decided to create a boteco that looked and felt as if it were transported from Brazil.
Carniato succeeded, and most nights the crowd — a mix of Brazilians and other South Americans, Americans and Europeans — spills from the wood deck out back, covered patio in front and interior bar, where the buzz of conversation and clink of bottles is part of the soundtrack. The place is operated by Renato Scarcello from Sao Paulo, who came here 13 years ago and is a friend of Carniato’s.
Brazil’s iconic cocktail, the caipirinha (made with muddled limes, sugar and a shot of cachaça), goes well with petiscos (appetizers). The favorite at Boteco is the frango passarinho or “little bird”, small bits of deep-fried chicken with garlic and parsley.
There also are rice dumplings (fried rice and cheese balls), shrimp sautéed in olive oil with fingerling potatoes, and chicken croquettes with catupiry (Brie-like Brazilian cream cheese), all good with hot sauce.
From the grill come mahi-mahi steaks, shrimp, sausage, chicken and picanha (sirloin steak). On Saturday feijoada (pronounced feesh-wada) is served. This stew of black beans and pork parts is derived from a slave dish and is served with rice, collard greens, slices of orange (to cut the richness), and farofa (seasoned yucca flour) for sprinkling over it all.
On Sunday, the parking lot will be closed and a tent erected to house the Brazilian Independence Day party (the actual date is Monday), complete with live music and samba dancers in a carnival atmosphere. Via Brazil!