Porto Alegre sits in the south of Brazil, more than 4,000 miles from Encinitas. Though most of us will never set eyes on the city, we’ll soon have a chance to enjoy its cuisine.
This November Ana Simon and Rafael Pedroso—a Village Park husband and wife from Porto Alegre—will open Sabor de Vida, a Brazilian restaurant specializing in traditional gaucho-style barbecue. Remarkably, though they both grew up in Porto Alegre just seven blocks from each other, the couple first met in Cardiff during a chance encounter at The Kraken in 2002.
“It was destiny for us to meet here,” Pedroso says beaming. Careers in international business brought them both to Encinitas, but they soon discovered they also shared a love of cooking—namely Brazilian barbecue, which features premium cuts slow-cooked over open flames so that the natural flavors of the meat take center stage. It wasn’t long before the duo was wowing friends at backyard parties, and by 2006 that snowballed into a catering company. By 2008 business was booming.
“The problem was, people liked us, but we had nowhere to send them. We realized we needed to have a restaurant so people could enjoy our food any time they felt like it,” Pedroso explains. He and his wife spent the next few years hunting for the perfect location, which they recently found near the intersection of El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard next to Tuesday Morning.
The approximately 1,400-square-foot restaurant will be intimate, with room for about 50 diners. The menu will offer their signature Brazilian barbecue, including tri-tip, chicken breast, all-beef sausage, grilled veggies and grilled pineapples with cinnamon and sugar.
There will also be a variety of entrees—including feijoad, a Brazilian black bean stew—and several Brazilian tapas, called salgadinhos, including empanadas and coxinhas, which are similar to croquets. The dishes are all made using family recipes from Simon and Pedroso, who were both raised by mothers who were exceptionally talented cooks.
“This is legit Brazilian food,” Pedroso says, adding that his kitchen staff will use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. “But we won’t only be selling Brazilian food, we will also be bringing Brazilian culture into the game.”
That means if you come for dinner, expect to linger for a while.
“Brazilians love to come together and mingle when they eat. During a traditional Sunday dinner, food is served for hours. Everybody is passing the food around as they talk, enjoying the company and nibbling. People don’t need to break away from the conversation to eat because the food just keeps flowing through.
“It’s different food, a different way of eating, and a different style of service.”
Because of that, Sabor de Vida will offer tray service with food intended for sharing. And to achieve that authentic Brazilian ambiance, Pedroso took care to hire employees who were either from Brazil or had been steeped in the culture so they could educate diners.
“We want people to understand our traditions and how we eat,” he said. “I believe that will only enhance the overall dining experience.”
Pedroso and his wife say now that they’ve sprouted roots in Encinitas, recently welcoming son Luca, they’re eager to share their Brazilian culture with some of their neighbors.
“I think Encinitas is the perfect fit for Sabor de Vida. It just feels right to be doing this here.”
Sabor de Vida will be located at 215 S. El Camino Real, suite G. Its hours of operation will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
During lunchtime, diners will order at the register and most meals will range from $12 to $14. During dinnertime there will be full service, and most dishes will run you anywhere from $14 to $20. Sabor de Vida will also serve beer and wine, and offer happy hour specials.
Pedroso says the projected opening date is Nov. 15, but that’s subject to change, so Patch will keep you posted.