Because of Italian immigration to Brazil, more pizza is sold in Sao Paolo than anywhere in the world, according to Brazilian native and Copacabana Pizza & Grill owner Andre Balatka. “Of course we add a Brazilian twist, with toppings like corn, hearts of palm, and shrimp,” he says. At Copacabana in North Cambridge, he also makes Copa Flip, a stuffed potato pancake, and a regional specialty in southern Brazil known as “batata Swiss” (medium from $10.95, serves 2; large from $13.45, serves 4). It’s another example of a dish with a blended background, like Balatka himself, who is of German and Portuguese heritage.
Balatka makes Copa Flip in individual skillets that cradle par-boiled potatoes shredded by hand. Standing at the prep station, with a dozen fillings nearby, he pats a layer of potatoes into a hot pan to create a cup. He sprinkles in mozzarella, vegetables, and meat, then dots the surface with homemade requeijao, a soft cheese made with milk, cream, and Parmesan. He tops it with more shredded potatoes and fries it over high heat until golden on both sides. “I am excited to introduce this to Americans,” says Balatka, beaming. Copacabana Pizza & Grill, 2378 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3576, copapizza.eat24hour.com.