IN THE KITCHEN Owner Erich Pruller credits a trio of cooks — Maria Paula Souza, Elza Ramos de Oliveira, and Maria Pacheco — for bringing his restaurant’s flavors to life. “My cooks are very talented and very passionate. They do it with real love,” he said. He also points to Alexandre Silva, who manages the churrasco barbecue grill from which many of the restaurant’s best tastes emanate. “He works his magic, creating wonderful tastes and great relationships,” said Pruller, who is originally from Sao Paulo.
THE LOCALE Keep your eyes peeled as you drive along Marlborough’s Lincoln Street: Pruller Restaurant is simple and cheerful inside, with bright, reddish-orange walls livening up the 80-seat dining room, but from the street it’s easy to miss. Pruller said he selected the city for its diversity — not only Brazilians, but other nationalities, and individuals who have visited Brazil and want to relive the food experience closer to home. For customers who have never tried Brazilian food, he goes through the dishes with them “one by one,” Pruller said.
ON THE MENU I experienced Pruller’s gracious, informative, and mouthwatering guided tour firsthand during a recent weekend visit. Everything here is served buffet style; there is no written menu. For that reason, there’s no need to go overboard on your first pass; Pruller visits our table a couple of times with a big smile, urging us to return to the buffet for seconds (and thirds).
The meal starts with salads. Vinagrete, a Brazilian condiment similar to pico de gallo, is a blend of chopped tomatoes, onions, and green peppers doused with vinegar and olive oil. There’s also a Brazilian chicken salad layered with crunchy potato sticks; potato salad with peas and carrots; and fresh beets.
Plantains, fried until the edges are nicely browned, are incredibly sweet, and are offset by stalks of yucca, a mild root vegetable. Next are white and yellow seasoned rice, which you can pile high with black and pinto beans. Ribbons of collard greens are a wonderful, healthful addition, although I find them a bit too salty on our visit.
The buffet takes a quick detour into a few unexpected Italian entrees: four-cheese ravioli, polenta, and spaghetti with tomato sauce. Pruller attributes their presence to Brazilians appreciating those dishes. They’re fine, although they’re not where I’d recommend allotting much of your appetite with so many other tantalizing options.
Instead, focus on some of the more distinctive Brazilian entrees. Feijão tropeiro, which combines yucca flour, collard greens, pork, sausage, and pinto beans, resembles a rich stuffing and is usually served on Sundays. We also try a Brazilian beef stew with potatoes and a thick brown gravy, and chicken thighs with okra, slightly slimy but flavorful.
Serving as the buffet’s pièce de résistance: nearly a dozen types of meat threaded onto gargantuan skewers, grilled in the churrasco barbecue, then slid off and sliced directly onto diners’ waiting plates.
“We Brazilians love our meats,” Pruller said. The lineup includes beef sirloin, pork shoulder, bacon-wrapped chicken, chicken wings, spicy sausage, and chicken hearts. Seasonings are simple, often consisting of little more than sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and olive oil.
Did I mention the buffet costs just $13 per person?
If you’re still hungry, desserts include flan and passion fruit mousse.
Pruller Restaurant is at 514 Lincoln St., Marlborough; 508-480-8825, www.facebook.com/prullerrestaurant.