By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – For a true taste of churrasco, the signature Brazilian barbecue style of grilling skewered meat over an open fire, try Labaredas Brazilian BBQ.
The restaurant, on Route 20 in eastern Marlborough, has been satisfying customers” cravings for the real thing for six years.
Wagner Rosa and his wife, Bethe, came here from Brazil 13 years ago, and he and his family, including son Wagner Rosa Jr., known to all as Junior, and daughter-in-law Jessica, operate the popular Brazilian buffet restaurant, with family members there seven days a week.
“I worked at my grandfather's restaurant in Brazil, and I like the business,” Rosa said, explaining why he decided to open Labaredas. The name means “flames” in Portuguese, a tribute to the grill fire.
Rosa takes great pride in Labaredas” fresh foods.
“I go to the market two times a week” for the ingredients needed, he said.
With the exception of such staples as brown and white rice, the large assortment of side dishes in the buffet line changes daily, depending on what's available at the market, and all the dishes are prepared fresh every day in the restaurant's kitchen.
The restaurant itself is not fancy, but it is bright and cheerful. It occupies the end spot in a small shopping center. Large windows on two sides let in plenty of light. Three walls are a soft gold, with deep red on the back wall adding a colorful note. There's plenty of parking in the lot outside.
If you'se never tried a Brazilian barbecue restaurant, the format is unlike American restaurants, but the staff at Labaredas is happy to answer any questions about what to do. While the restaurant attracts a large number of Brazilians seeking some home cooking, about a third of the customers are not Brazilian, Rosa said.
The first thing you need to know here is that you pay by the pound. You take what you want at the side dishes buffet and add the barbecued meats you would like. Your plate is then weighed and you'se given a check for the amount owed, at $6.49 a pound. You can come back for seconds or thirds. The new weight and total will be added to your check, and you pay at the register at the end of your meal.
“It's all the same price,” meats and side dishes, Rosa said. “Some people eat a little, some eat a lot. They pay for what they take.”
He noted this system is particularly good for families with children, who don's end up paying for a lot of food the kids can's eat. They can just put together a small amount on a child's plate.
When you come into Labaredas, you start with the buffet line of side dishes to your right, where the individual dishes are labeled.
The first section is cold salads. On a recent visit, the selection included fresh strawberries, pineapple chunks, sliced tomatoes, and potato salad.
Then come the hot side dishes, starting with white and brown rice and red beans. The other choices available the day we were there included plantains, fried yucca, spinach, zucchini and polenta.
At the end of the buffet line are several daily specials if you would like those instead of??”or in addition to??”the grilled meats.
Rosa emphasized that these entrees are freshly prepared and change daily. Our choices included roast beef you carve yourself, pork ribs, and chicken in tomato sauce.
After you make your choices of side dishes, you take your plate to the barbecue station for the meat, the reason you come here.
“All the meats are cooked fresh every day,” Rosa said.
The choices are listed on a board behind the counter. There's beef top sirloin and a second version of the sirloin with garlic as well as beef brisket. You can order barbecued pork roast or ribs. The grilled sausage choices are Brazilian linguica and Polish kielbasa. There's also barbecued chicken and chicken hearts, a Brazilian specialty.
You can choose as many meat options as you like.
The staff will bring out a large skewer of the meat you have chosen and slice off as much as you want. You can ask for slices that are cooked rare, medium or well-done, as you prefer.
Then your plate will be weighed and you'sl get a receipt for your dinner. Remember it's all $6.49 a pound, from rice and salad to beef sirloin. And you can come back for seconds or to try another dish.
You can also assemble your meal to go – takeout containers are available at the beginning of the buffet line.
Labaredas Brazilian BBQ is located at 500 Boston Post Road East (Route 20) in Marlborough, 508-281-6555. It's open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.