You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fogo de Chao (Philadelphia, PA)

Recently, I had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant unlike any other that I've been to, Fogo de Chao. A true Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo is a most unique dining experience that you really can't get anywhere else. The basic premise is that you sit at a table, and are served endlessly from a selection of over ten meats, all roasted on a spit in the kitchen. If you want to hear more about the service, visit their website @
From the outside, Fogo's three part dinner service seems pretty simple. However, it's much more complex than you could ever imagine.
When you sit down for the first time, you'll be offered the salad bar. Consisting of endless vegetables, multiple pasta/potato/salads, aged cheeses (including a mammoth wheel of aged parmesan), as well as a selection of meats and smoked salmon, the salad bar is not to be overlooked. However, one must keep in mind the meat course (2nd course) is still to come when you're up there selecting your salad items. You wouldn't want to finish eating your raw vegetables, become full, and then not have room for the lamb chops walking around.
Now what about those lamb chops walking around? Well here is where Fogo de Chao separates itself from any other steakhouse you've ever attended. When you decide to begin your meat course (signaled by flipping your given Fogo De Chao two sided token from red to green) men with various accents and cuts of meat will begin to come to your table and offer you any one of their bites. From Filet Mignon, to ribs, to chicken, to flank steak, to pork loin and anywhere in between, you might find it hard to pace yourself. Speaking of pacing myself,within mere minutes of flipping my plate looked as it does below
Now you may be saying, "THERE ARE THINGS OTHER THAN MEAT ON HIS PLATE. WHAT?" Well the next part of the meal that goes along with the meats is the group of endless side dishes that are served. Warm bread, crispy polenta, caramelized bananas (essentially fried plantain imposters), and garlic mashed potatoes are all brought to your table and refilled as needed. These are the weakest part of the meal, but hey, you didn't come for mashed potatoes. Pictured below is the polenta (the best of the side dishes).

But back to the meats. Overall the meats were somewhere from good to great. The draw of Fogo shouldn't be eating the best steak you've ever tasted, rather the most variety and in the most interesting way. If you truly want the best filet mignon, go to the best steakhouse in Philadelphia and order solely the steak. However, if you want a delicious filet, a taste of a rib, a bite of sausage, etc, Fogo is your best bet (and one of the only places that could supply you that as well). The most truly delicious steak on the menu, as a consensus of my whole party, was what they called the "house special," colloquially known as a top sirloin, and it out shined every other piece of meat I ate that night. As pictured below on the spit, it truly wowed me and made me want to just keep eating and eating.

Finally, we got to ordering dessert. On most dinners I'd say dessert at Fogo de Chao is like a leprechaun at a Bar Mitzvah in Lower Merion--not often spotted and if spotted, kind of uncalled for. However, it was my 16th birthday dinner, so dessert seemed fitting. I got what the restaurant praised to be their most requested dessert, the papaya cream (below). It was truly the best ending to the meal, a smooth, creamy, refreshing bite at the end of a mostly heavy, hearty meal. My friend got the molten chocolate cake as per suggestion by our hipster young male waiter, and it did not disappoint either. However, twas the polar opposite of the papaya cream. (picture further below.)

Overall, I'd say Fogo de Chao is an interesting culinary experience for anyone that likes to eat or likes to taste good food. If you can bear the stiff price tag, Fogo's a one of a kind dine.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Check out more about Fogo at their website:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chiapparelli's (Baltimore, MD)

The other night, I found myself in a pickle. My family and I were driving home from visiting family in Potomac, MD, and the day was growing old quickly. It was getting later and later, and we had not eaten anything since much earlier in the day. We were all hungry but had no idea where to stop for dinner on the trek back home. My dad had a spur of the moment nostalgic thought about an old Italian restaurant he had once went to in Baltimore's Little Italy. I tried my best to put it into Google on my phone, and somehow it knew where I was going with my guess--and we set out a path to get to a restaurant called "Chiapparelli's."
As you enter the threshold of Chiapparelli's, a warm, embracing air greets you at the door. You'll most likely be sat by a representative of the very experienced, helpfully accommodating waitstaff. The menu is typical of any traditional Italian based menu, offering a large selection of pastas along with a few meat and fish dishes as well. You can see the whole menu here > .
To start the meal, we ordered a few appetizers. Arancine, a classic Italian dish that is made of rice balls that are creamed with cheese and fried, along with the another traditional dish of Italian sausage that Chiapparelli's gets from a local butcher stood out. Below is the Sausage and peppers--because it was short notice that we were going to Chiapparelli's, I had to take the pictures on my phone and thus they don't look quite as good as the food really did in real life :(

It only got better from there. For the main course I had the "Drooling Gnocchi," (pictured below) which was absolutely delicious. Chiapparelli's has been making homemade gnocchi almost as long as they've been in business--over 70 years. Creamy, cheesy and delicious, a great dish.

My sister, always the adventurous one, (...) had the spaghetti and meatballs. Apparently it was great, despite being "So much I just can't finish it!!!" (below)

Bottom Line:All in all, I can't say enough about Chiapparelli's, a delicious stop on any trip to or passing by Baltimore.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

You can find out more about Chiapparelli's at their website--