8 June 2012


 June 8, 2012

I was invited by my friends at Rodizio Grill to check-out their new Stamford location for dinner one evening. Now, I typically am not a “chain restaurant” kind of guy but when I found out that this location was owned by the same owner of the Tri-State area Melting Pot locations I knew that this experience would be different than walking into any old chain. You see, my two experiences at the Melting Pot of White Plains were absolutely amazing from a food allergy and Celiac perspective. These are locations that, while part of a chain, go above and beyond to make sure that all diners, regardless of their dietary restrictions have a safe and delicious experience.

Now the Rodizio Grill was appealing because I am a huge fan of Rodizio-style dining where it is basically a bacchanal of assorted meats that just keep coming and are carved table-side for guests to enjoy. Rodizio dining also means a lavish salad bar with are range of hot and cold selections that could be a meal all on its own. But perhaps my favorite part of Brazilian dining is quite possibly the smallest – the Pão de Queijo. These are absolutely decadent little cheese rolls that are served warm and they are gluten-free by design as they use tapioca flour as their base.

We arrived at the restaurant, which was already buzzing with guests, and were warmly greeted and shown to our table. Perhaps the most astonishing thing was that I was immediately presented with a printed out multi-page version of all of the menu items that were arranged on an allergy-matrix so I could easily scan for items that would not be suitable. Quite frankly, there was only a few items that were off limits. I knew exactly what I needed to avoid at the salad bar, which meats had sauces that contained gluten, and what desserts would be viable options for me. This was quite possible the best allergy guide that I have ever seen and addressed a range of ingredients that could cause problems for diners.

We were then presented with three appetizers consisting of fried polenta, fried bananas, and my beloved Pão de Queijo. The polenta and Pão de Queijo arrived on the same plate and the bananas on their own. Mike, the manager on duty – who was amazing by the way – quickly explained that while the fried polenta and Pão de Queijo were gluten-free, the bananas were not. When I asked about the fryer situation he, without missing a beat, explained how there are dedicated fryers that only fry gluten-free items and the bananas (which had a coating) got their own. This was the same experience I had at the Melting Pot where servers and staff were ALL extremely knowledgeable on food allergies and didn’t have to go get answers – they already had them. It really makes such a huge difference when you can sit back and enjoy a meal because you know that the staff are looking out for you.

I first made my way over to the salad bar and loaded my plate with a selection of items and all of them were delicious. I was seated near the salad bar and could not believe how often staff came by to make sure nothing was running low and constantly refreshed the offerings. The fun part about Rodizio-style dining is that each table gets a wooden cue that is red on one end and green on the other. When you are ready for the parade of meat (and fish) to begin you simply turn it to green and let the main course commence. Once you go green the gauchos begin to arrive with their offerings on large skewers and slice-off whatever piques your interest.

Now on to the main course…

I was amazed at the variety of options that were available. There was everything from various cuts of beef, to chicken (most were not gluten-free because of the marinade), turkey, pork, lamb, fish, and even grilled whole pineapple – there was even chicken hearts on offer but I did not see many takers on that one. If you check out the menu online you’ll see that different locations have different special offerings depending on where they are located and the season. I pretty much tried everything that came out and I have to say that all of the meat was well-prepared and really quite flavorful. The beef cuts were juicy and tender and had just the right amount of simple seasoning to allow the meat to stand on its own. The nice thing about this style of eating is that while you will definitely be full at the end, you are eating small portions over a longer period so you can really sample a range of options over the course of your meal. Not to mention you can eat as much or as little as you like.

For dessert I tried the Brazilian Cream which is a blend of ice cream with your choice of flavor (I had coconut) mixed in to make it more like a soft-serve custardy treat. It was really very good with just the subtle flavor of your desired mix-in. Next time I will definitely be giving the flan a go.

If you are in the Stamford area (it’s just a quick hop from NYC or Westchester) I would definitely recommend giving this Rodizio Grill a try. Their attention to food allergic diners does not waiver and the service was really top-notch. Now for the best part…

My friends at the Stamford Rodizio Grill are giving TWO lucky readers a $50 gift certificate to try Rodizio Grill on your own. Entering could not be easier – just follow the instructions below. Completing each task will earn you a maximum of twenty five entries. Not on Facebook or Twitter? Just click Use Your Email to enter. The two lucky winners will be selected at random on Monday, June 18th. Please note: The gift certificates are only valid at the Stamford location.

Update: 6/18/12
The giveaway is over. Congratulations to Peter S. and Simran S. who each will receive a $50 gift certificate to Rodizio Grill in Stamford, Connecticut.

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