Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

myMEGusta Samples: Brasitas

Brasitas, of Stamford and Norwalk, CT, is named for ‘little coals’, so it is not surprising that the Latin Fusion menu in these sprightly decorated restaurants features a wide range of grilled goodies, as well as more complex offerings from the rest of the kitchen.

The menu reads somewhat simply, e.g. Pinchos de Churrasco (beef skewers), but this appetizer also features a crispy “yucca” (actually cassava, a Cuban staple) cake, creamy textured on the inside and crisp on the exterior. And this simple description does not give a clue to how perfectly marinated and grilled the tender chunks of skirt steak are.

Similarly, a selection of empanadas, a standard on Latino menus, arrive thoughtfully cut in half, perfect for sharing, their flavorful fillings enhanced by a creamy guajllo chile aji dipping sauce.

On a recent visit to Brasitas, we notched up our usual food sampling adventures with a mini wine tasting, focusing on three whites, all made of 100% Albarino grapes, from the verdant Rias Baixas region of northwestern Spain. Also called Green Galicia, the region is well known for Santiago de Compostela, a religious pilgrim’s destination since the Middle Ages and recently in the spotlight in Martin Sheen’s film, The Way.

We chose the Lusco, rich in the mouth and aromatic, to accompany the appetizers, and it complemented everything, from the ceviche to that excellent grilled beef.

Main courses range from the expected, a Latino paella (with seasonings more assertive than one would expect in a traditional Spanish version, and made with exceptionally moist rice), to shrimp quesadillas, accented with chili oil.

Portions are generous but not overwhelming and plated to facilitate sharing. Brasitas graciously avoids those annoying “extra plate” charges becoming common in too many restaurants, some of whose portions border on the ridiculous for one person.

A Latin Fusion standout was Pollo Criollo, perfectly moist roasted free range chicken breast with seasonings native to the Americas, bathed in foie gras infused Huancaina sauce. Originating from the Andes in Peru, this sauce is made of queso fresco (also known as farmer’s cheese), onions and yellow aji chiles.  Truffle oil mashed potatoes rounded out the plate.

Adega Condes de Albarei, clean and dry, on the light side but still fruity, was the group’s  wine choice to accompany the chicken, and to segue into Paella.

Next came Camarones al Ajillo, prawns with garlic.  But what prawns, jumbos and impeccably fresh, sizzling in a tomato garlic sauce! There was more: Baby spinach seasoned with toasted garlic, pungent enough to serve a punch, but at the same time mellow, and an attractively presented inverted cone of saffron rice.

Torre la Moreira, slightly crisper and with a prominent nose, was the perfect foil for these lively flavors, and made for pleasant sipping as we contemplated dessert.

Dessert offerings are limited, probably because most guests are so happily sated at this point, but myMEGusta diligently persisted, sampling two: Crepes in dulce de leche and a traditional Latino flan. This provided an adventure in tasting two types of caramel, the former the reduced sugar/evaporated milk so wildly popular in Latin America, particularly in Argentina, and the latter simply caramelized sugar which melts irresistably in the custard’s juices to be a light sauce. Both were excellent.

The reasonably priced wine list is limited, however the sangria is fabulous and Brasitas’ charge for corkage is modest.

Brasitas, 954 East Main Street, Stamford, CT 06902 (203) 323-3176

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