Tucked in the corner of Hickory Square Mall in Chatham, this family-run Portuguese restaurant serves up food that'll knock your socks off (perhaps its the garlic!). With a few seats at the granite bar facing the open kitchen and a handful of tables, be sure to call ahead for a reservation. Upon entering, you'll be greeted by Claudio or one of his family. Fresh bread and olives are brought to every table and you'll find deliciously fruity Portuguese Extra Virgin Olive oil for dipping.
Don't fill up on bread though! I went on a Tuesday evening with one of my girlfriends. As we perused the menu, we were informed of the daily specials: grilled whole red snapper or Chilean Sea bass fillet. We both chose items from the regular menu. To start we shared an order of clams with cilantro and garlic sauce. A dozen or so clams came in a pot with a light sauce loaded with cilantro and garlic. (Note: now would be a good time for the bread!) We soaked up the sauce with some of the bread and already swore we'd come back - even if only for those clams!
Our main dishes gave us more reason for a return visit. I opted for my favorite Portuguese dish: Carne de Porco Alentejana, or pork and clams. I was served an entire pot of chunks of tender, marinated pork and browned potatoes in a cilantro sauce. Five clams completed the dish. Lighter than any pork and clams I've ever had, it was full of flavor. Some pickled vegetables lend just the right amount of acidity to this hearty dish. I ate about a third of it and had to have the rest wrapped up to take home.
My friend chose the Bitoque, a grilled shell steak topped with fresh ham, a fried egg and their special grilling sauce. A pile of homemade potato chips came on the side. Ordered medium, the steak had a warm pink center and was another very sizable portion. The egg looked perfectly cooked with a bright yellow runny yolk.
A glance around proved that all the portions are huge - paella looked big enough to serve at least two (or one with lots leftover - even better!).
All in all, friendly service and delicious, fresh Portuguese food put Brasa Grille on the list of restaurants I'll visit again and again. If you're looking for good Portuguese, give it a try - it's a lot easier to park than in the Ironbound district of Newark... And as I told the owner: it's as good as any Portuguese food I had in Lisbon!