[UPDATE: Now closed and for Sale by Owner]
A few years ago I noticed a unique eatery in my area opened. It was next to my favorite park, and was unique because it was named “Lisboa Portuguese BBQ”. In this neck of the suburban woods, there is no shortage of Pizza or fast food, Italian or Chinese places to eat. So when something like this comes along, its worth visiting. But to be honest, at first sight, I was enthusiastic but not impressed and actually walked out. I went in, saw the setup, looked like cheap fried food at an expensive price ($9 for a sandwich), so I took a menu and said I’d be back. At that time it just liked 2 guys looking to make a buck. So, a few years later, I decided I was going to dine there.
For whatever reason, I woke this morning wanting Brazilian food. I terribly miss my girlfriend, and quite frankly am tired of everything else. I was logged intoto locate an eatery, but it was either out of the way, or I’ve been there or it was just another chain/pizza place. Finally I made a stop to someplace I knew but was not listed. Lisboa Barbecue is basically a hole in the wall, unassuming, nothing fancy but definitely a small gem found in the rough. I am not sure if they are Portuguese (as billed) or just Brazilian. I know the female chef was hispanic (not Portuguese or Brazilian) but the owner, and older woman who was more than pleasant was especially friendly.
At first look, this is a place that looks to be a deli with seating which serves breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it basically is, but looking at their menu really delighted me. Yes, it was somewhat tacky, featuring photos of prepared plates with crazy fonts in the colors of red, green and yellow. But now it all started to come back to me. It resembled the menus I would see displayed at many places in Fortaleza, Brazil for tourists to stop and read. I will scan the menu and insert in a later post, its classic. But what impressed me most was the fact that they have Guarana in both bottle and can. Gurana is a fruit found in Brazil, notably the Amazon. Little did I know that this berry also has a lot of caffeine and combine with sugar has a significant reaction. It is also interesting to note that it is second only to Coca-Cola in Brazil and one of the 15th most popular beverages in the world — who knew? I know now! I only had it once while in Brazil. I am not a big soda or “refrigerante” fan, but when I tasted it, it was much like a cross between something sweeter than a cream soda. It’s quite good!
So, while waiting 10-15 mins for a simple order of the special, chicken empanadas and a side of fried sweet bananas (better known as sweet plantains), I decided to have some Guarana in a bottle. Soon my food came and I was surprised, it looked more like what I would find in Brazil rather than here in NJ.
While the bananas were a bit oily, the empanadas were perfect. Hot, flakey, the chicken inside reminded me exactly of those empanadas I had in Brazil. Even the seasoning and color were right on target. Delicious. And for only $1.50 each, I wish I had ordered more to store and freeze for when I was not in the mood to cook. There were only a few other diners here at 1:30pm and they saw me looking at their plates. Food was served on an oval stainless platter with rice, beans, ribs, BBQ chicken, and for the first time in my life I was very tempted to go back there for dinner. This is authentic food, whether they are Portuguese or Brazilian, I will return, and I will sample everything they have on the menu. Food like this does not need to be presented in a classy or grand way, it is ethnic and should be delivered as such. And while it may appear to be fast food, its not, it takes at least 10-20 mins for each order.
As much as I miss my fiancee, I miss the common foods of Brazil, I will be back there soon with more photos and updates.
For those local, nothing fancy, but definitely worth trying:
Lisboa Barbecue (973-571-9339)
467 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona NJ 07044
(literally a few feet from Verona Park)
Open 7 Days/week From 9am-10pm