There's been a spate of new businesses we've written about of late – , – and then there's this restaurant a little off the Beekman/Broadway/Main loop that's been sitting pretty for months but you may not know about it.
Sam Masini is one of three partners running , though he's the most unlikely candidate to open a Brazilian place: Italian roots, himself an acupuncturist/naturopathic physician by day, nearly a vegetarian. While we sampled chicken from the buffet in the main dining room of this three-room bar/restaurant (with parking lot!), Masini told us how he got into this business and what in the world he eats here.
So buy local and go say hello to...
Sam Masini of
1. Masini...that's not Brazilian. How did you come to own a Brazilian restaurant?
SM: No, I'm not Brazilian. I had three grandparents born in Italy. This is sort of the place's third try. The prior owners fixed up the space. Palmas Brazilian Grill was their name. They tried to get it going a few times in 2011 but the partners weren't good for each other, and they sold it. We bought the business and got it going around November. There are three partners. My wife [Edineia Cardoso] is Brazilian, one partner is Mexican and his significant other is Colombian so at times they come in and cook and we have different dishes but mostly typical Brazilian food. My wife had a restaurant before and we talked about doing it again. It was the lure of a restaurant fully set up with things we would want, more or less walk-in. We find though it's more less than more.
2. And what is typical Brazilian food?
SM: Weekends we have the churrasco going, the charcoal rotisserie is popular. Brazilian is not that different than American. It's familiar foods: chicken stew with potatoes, carrots. In the salad bar you always find a 'mayonnaise,' a potato salad really with peas and carrots. I've never gone into a restaurant of this type and not seen it. Beets, fresh cooked and chilled. The full buffet will have a beef, chicken, pork dish, a leafy green, a major starch like polenta or lasagna. White and colored rice. Red and black beans. Feijoada, black beans with cuts of pork and sausage.
3. Where do you live? And would you move here?
SM: New Rochelle. That's where my wife owned her restaurant. I thought about [living here] just this morning. I grew up in Westchester but don't have much experience on the west side. Most if it was walking on the aqueduct. It's a perennial question for me of where to live. It's kind of a well-kept secret here, these Rivertowns.
4. Kind of like your restaurant?
SM: We're off the beaten trail. We haven't gotten the word out. There's a bit of a crowd on the weekends but weekdays are more sparse. I do hear there's a sizable Brazilian population here in Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, Ossining. The Brazilian restaurant on Main Street  is not like us. We are the working class buffet style. There you have a waiter and more exotic food. I find immigrants in general, from my own family experience, find the ancestral foods the most desirable. Simple food we would eat at home. We do notice customers ask for, if not typically get, things they are familiar with. The standardization of the buffet is pretty important.
5. How does your lifestyle square with this? As far as time and work and what you eat?
SM: I have a garden at home and grow kale, radish greens, arugula, mustard greens. I don't have the output to sustain a day here [to feed people at the restaurant]. I eat oats, millet; mainly from here I eat rice and beans. I'm pretty close to vegetarian, but at times I feel like four chorizo sausages.
For my work, I do house calls only. I did that to have more of a life and it's been great. I go as far East as Stamford, limit my Northerly excursions to around Chappaqua and go west to the river and down to the Bronx. The range of my patients is greater than my range.
My wife's restaurant had three partners [in 2003 in New Rochelle]. The one who did the paperwork absconded with the profits. He stopped paying vendors, sales tax, the landlord. Then the vendors and the landlord came around and he left the country. This time, I'm the paper guy.
Palmas Brazilian Grill is located on 60 Clinton Street, Sleepy Hollow, 914/909-6440, cash only. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or later). $6 small plate, or $8 large from buffet, to go or stay.