Dinner at Texas de Brazil is a parade of meat. Gauchos show off knife skills as they promenade among tables at this Station Square churrascaria that opened in May. Dressed in Brazilian cowboy attire, they carry stakes of meat that glisten in juices, fat framing flesh like a bicycle tire.
Beef roasts over an open flame in a display kitchen at the back of the dining room. Fourteen cuts make the rounds, with lamb chops, sausages, bacon-wrapped filet and flank steak among them.
1 1/2 stars = Satisfactory+
240 W. Station Square Drive.
5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The restaurant offers seemingly endless servings of meat and solid service in a Brazilian-style churrascaria.
Picanha, parmesan pork loin, flank steak, rack of lamb, bacon-wrapped chicken breast and filet, sausages, leg of lamb, lamb chop, beef and pork ribs. Also includes cheese bread, garlic mashed potatoes, fried bananas and an extensive salad bar.
$42.99 for dinner, $24.99 for salad bar.
Wheelchair accessible, credit cards accepted, valet, garage parking.
- Noise level:
The most skilled gauchos cut picanha, the house specialty of top sirloin that's shaved paper thin. As one carves meat, he reminds a grabby diner to use the tongs provided, not fingers, to guide that slice to the plate. It's tempting to snatch a protruding crispy bit.
Other meats are not so tempting, such as the pork loin, the parmesan chicken or, oddly, the gamey leg of lamb, usually a prized cut when it's grass-fed.
A Dallas-based chain founded in 1998, Texas de Brazil has nearly 30 locations, with many opening in New York and around the South. There's no menu here, but only a choice: the large dinner for $42.99 or the light dinner -- just the salad bar -- for $24.99.
Why review Texas de Brazil? A restaurant that draws as many customers as this one in a tourist-heavy area should be evaluated for how it's shaping the city's dining culture, even if, and perhaps especially if, it's not locally owned. Another reason to take a look: Texas de Brazil is one of the region's three churrascarias, the others being the Green Forest Churrascaria in Penn Hills and Palms Brazilian Steakhouse in Hopewell.
Drinks at Texas de Brazel are hit and miss. Among caipirinhas and Brazilian beers lie a hearty list of steak-friendly wines at prices to suit moderate- and big spenders. These include reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, $40) and whites (Chardonnay, $34) under the Texas de Brazil label made for the restaurant by the Santa Rita winery. During both visits, servers recited options rather than presenting menus.
Red walls and cavernous ceilings make the 7,500-square-foot dining room seem even larger. Eyes gravitate to the giant chandelier that looks like a feathery pinata.
Below it resides a moat of a salad bar. Among green beans, cold cuts, grilled pineapple and sushi, Brazil does not come to mind. The most satiating options are the black beans or the salads.
Gluttony is a given, as the only thing stopping gauchos from visiting a table is the red marker at each place setting turned to "No, Thank You." Otherwise, green ensures diners are doted on by meat men.
The feast includes garlic mashed potatoes, cheese bread and sweet fried bananas, which a server informed was "a palate cleanser." The sides were fine.
"This is a guy thing," a woman said to me during a primping break in the ladies room.
It's true the clientele is mostly men, but it's no gentlemen's club. In addition to tables of businessmen, the restaurant host dates, an elder's birthday celebration and handfuls of young children.
Service can be captivating, as the glint of steel from their knives and well-trained staff command attention. "There's something exciting about knives this close to your face as you're eating," joked a diner.
One server spoke to a table in Portuguese, Brazil's native language. A very tall manager in a suit visited every table to ensure they were taken care of.
A well-trained server named Pierre showed the most pride in his work. An employee based in Florida, he is in Pittsburgh to train staff. He told stories of big spenders and overeager diners. He explained the hierarchy of gauchos, who arrive midafternoon to tend to meat until dinner service. He talked about the most popular cuts: bacon-wrapped meat, filet and picanhas, of course.
Not all service is as smooth. A few tables waited several beats too many for tap water and drinks. A caipirinha ($12) -- the official Brazilian cocktail -- was too sweet. And once a table surrendered to the dessert course, it took 20 minutes to arrive.
Speaking of which, dessert presentation is gargantuan but dated, as giant swaths of chess pie, chocolate mousse cake and house creme brulee adorn a silver platter. Among them is a serviceable key lime pie, a tart, creamy pale green, a hue redolent of how a diner would feel when he overeats.
But that's the point, isn't it? After-dinner meat sweats are part of the parade.
Melissa McCart: 412-263-1198 or on Twitter @melissamccart.