By Sue Baldani
Having a craving for authentic Portuguese and Spanish cuisine? Look no further than Brasa Wood-Fired Grill, which opened in Warren, NJ in March of 2022.
The co-owner and chef, Jason Francisco, is first generation Portuguese American who learned to cook from watching his mother and others cook traditional, flavorful dishes that he now recreates for customers.
“I watched and learned,” he says. “I’m 50 now, and I’ve been doing this since I was 14. We also have a sous chef from Brazil who has helped with many of the Brazilian influences on our menu.” Everything on the menu is made fresh in house.
The chicken and ribs that come off the wood-fired grill are some of the restaurant’s most popular offerings. “The wood fire charcoal imparts a smokiness and a flavor into the food,” says Jason. “It’s also much healthier because we’re not cooking with any oils or grease.” The prime skirt steak is also a huge hit.
The majority of the meats come from a butcher in Newark that services Portuguese and Spanish restaurants. “They butcher everything for us,” he says. “There are big differences in going to a butcher as opposed to buying commercial.”
“Our ‘Big Fat Pork Chop’, as well as our skirt steak and burgers, come from a specialty meat shop in Manhattan’s meat packing district that we’ve been using for about 20 years,” says Rob Olsen, president of Liberty Hospitality and co-owner of the restaurant.
Although Brasa does not have a liquor license, it is an authorized retailer for Unionville Vineyards in New Jersey, so patrons, whether dining in or taking out, can purchase wines to go along with their meals.
Adds Rob, “We also have a sangria bar where there are several different varieties that pair with either red or white wine or sparkling wine that involve fresh juices, fruits, and homemade syrups.”
While there is a small, intimate dining room that can hold up to 50 people and can also be rented out for special events, its takeout option keeps the place hopping. “We dedicated more space than we normally would have to our takeout operation,” says Rob.
When ordering, don’t forget to include an authentic dessert. “Our most popular bakery item is a very traditional Portuguese custard cup,” says Jason. “We carry the traditional flavor and then a couple of other flavor variations.”
Reviews, says Rob, have been great. “Comments about our portion sizes, value, flavor, and the service in our dining room have been very positive.”
Brasa Wood-Fired Grill offers lunch and dinner during the week, and on weekends, adds brunch with some twists to the mix. There’s a Portuguese steak and egg combo with an authentic, flavorful sauce. “There’s another brunch dish called Hangover Home Fries,” says Rob. “It’s home fries with a choice of meat, chipotle aioli and two fried eggs.” Delicious!
Catering is also available, and you can order delivery by visiting its website. To place an order, learn more and to see the full menu, go to https://brasawarren.com/.
Written for The Showcase Magazine in Warren, New Jersey.