December 6, 2007
Get Out Your Gaucho Hat

Brush up on your Portuguese. Come next summer, a churrascaria is to move into a former fitness center at 14th and H in downtown Sacramento. Basically, a churrascaria -- pronounced shoo-ras-ka-ria -- is a Brazilian steakhouse inspired by Portuguese methods of barbecueing. Meats on skewers customarily are cooked over charcoal or gas, then carved tableside directly onto plates. Service is "rodizio" style, or all you can eat for one fixed price.

Taka Watanabe, who is teaming up with Peter Kwong to open Viva Rio, says the restaurant will be true to the traditional churrascaria, right down to the customary grilled chicken hearts, gizzards and liver. One unusual touch, however, will be the sushi that is to be on the menu. Watanabe and Kwong are partners in Taka's Sushi in Fair Oaks, Kru in midtown Sacramento, and Ju Hachi, another Japanese restaurant to open in midtown Sacramento early next year. Though Watanabe is closely identified with Japanese cooking, he grew up in Brazil, not leaving Rio de Janeiro until he was 26. He's long talked of opening a Brazilian steakhouse here, a dream he expects to fulfill with the debut of Viva Rio in June or July, though restaurant projects are notorious for running behind schedule.

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