Pity the poor carnivore, in most dining settings. Social decency requires that he participate in amiable table talk even though his eyes keep darting down to that glorious blood-red slab. He's even required to allow, say, “mashed potatoes and broccoli,” to take up space that could be occupied by more meat.
|Rodizio Steakhouse | 1195 Douglas Ave, North Providence | Mon-Thurs, 4:30-9 pm, Fri-Sat, 4:30-10:30 pm; Sun, 12-9 pm | Major credit cards | Full bar | Sidewalk-level access | 401.354.6330|
In that regard, the most civilized and guilt-free restaurant I ever encountered was in Douglas Adams’s The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, in which a specially bred cow comes to your table, introduces itself, suggests a cut of its haunch that should particularly please you, and then retires to dispatch itself before you are served. I’ve always been quite moved by that passage, knowing that, upon opportunity, I’d be honored to return the favor.
The second-most civilized such restaurant in my experience is Rodizio Steak¬house, in North Provi¬dence. There, numerous servers, dressed as gauchos, complete with black vests and red scarves, circulate among tables with long skewers of various meats to slice onto your plate.
In the restaurant’s pristine surroundings, carnivore genes are activated by such touches as a painting of gauchos at a sunset campfire, cooking on sticks what is unlikely to be potatoes. Stretched nearby is the brown and white hide of a steer, perhaps honoring the previous night’s repast.
Yes, Rodizio is a traditional Brazilian churrascaria restaurant, but that’s not all. It’s also an Italian restaurant. That is to say, there are unlimited visits to what they call the Antipasto Island, which has a large assortment of Italian items. You can lay down a cushion of various starters before turning the marker on your table from red-side-up to green, whereupon the circulating servers start zeroing in on your table, skewers aloft like so many knights with dripping dragon morsels on their upright lances. Noble lads.
Or, if you invited along a vegetarian, to more easily stifle a drool or whimper at the sight of a favorite cut approaching, for only $20 he or she can partake of the antipasto bar alone. (The Full Monty, with 15 meats, is $27. Either is half-price for children 10 and under, free for three and under.)
That all-you-can-eat spread will do more than pique your appetite, if you like. Come back for as many peel-’n’-eat shrimp as you like. Cherrystone clams are in a tasty garlic-and-wine broth, and other seafood includes frutti del mare salad, heavy on fat mussels, and aglio e olio calamari salad with plenty of tasty black olives. One of the hot dishes that I didn’t sample was stuffed perch. Not everything was perfect: the fried scallops under the heat lamp arrived at the table at room temperature, and the smoked scallop salad didn’t warrant its adjective. Big deal.
Among the starters, there’s not just seafood, but also pasta and polenta — even meat, in the form of sausage and peppers, plus a traditional Brazilian dish among all the Italian fare. Their tasty feijoada is spiced shredded pork with black beans, with farofa (toasted manioc flour) nearby to sprinkle on top.
A cone of French fries arrived at our table unbidden and soon a lovely glass of rioja, dry yet fruity, from a full wine list. Wine by the carafe or half-carafe is also available, as is sangria. Five small metal cups of dipping condiments were placed before me. I turned our marker to green side up and successfully restrained my hands, which wanted to rub together, and took a deep breath:
Filet mignon, both plain and (ummm) marinated in garlic and wine; leg of lamb similarly steeped with fresh herbs; a flatiron cut of steak, simply rubbed with sea salt and olive oil; top sirloin in three preparations. Then there was pork tenderloin; turkey; chicken wrapped in bacon; chicken encrusted with a sweet sauce (too dry, but a good excuse to have an extra slice or two of the broiled fresh pineapples that were making the rounds). Polish sausage, perfect for the mustard dip, was my last indulgence. A trio of other sausages were brought around as we got up to go, full, but reluctant to leave.
It’s hard to imagine having any room for dessert if you properly take advantage of the opportunities here. But nearly a dozen are offered, from tiramisu to fresh mango with peach gelato, at $4 to $6 each. Maybe next time, in the spirit of gustatory excess, I’ll order one of them to go.
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