Nobody loves summer like Ilson Goncalves, owner of New Jersey’s most authentic homestyle Brazilian restaurant, Samba Montclair.
That’s when Goncalves hunts local farmers markets for the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables to recreate the tastes of his native Brazil. Samba’s summer blackboard specials will be inspired by the weekly harvest and the freshest seafood available and may all be enjoyed on the recently opened sidewalk seating.
Look for popular dishes like the Moqueca Baiana , seafood stew with calamari, shrimp, scallops and the catch of the day; Bolinho de Kabocha,pastry filled with squash and dried beef served with a side of cilantro sauce; and Acorn Squash Moranga , squash stuffed with shrimp in a coconut milk cream sauce.
Tropical fruits of course play a major role in the Samba kitchen. “Brazil is one of the top fruit-producing countries in the world, so it’s only natural that we use fruit in every part of the meal,” says Goncalves. ” From papaya and mango in our salads and acai berry in our sorbets to fresh pineapple & mint drinks, we feature the bounty of summer wherever possible.”
More than 300 types of fruit are grown in Brazil. Acai berries are found on palm trees in the Amazon and are known for their health benefits. Guarana berries are famous for having twice the caffeine content of coffee beans. Abacaxi , or pineapple, is actually native to South America and not Hawaii. Plus, there’s passion fruit, papaya, guava and avocado.
Goncalves has many tips for selecting fruit from the market. “I prefer to buy my fruit unripe,” he says. When choosing pineapples, “hold it in the air by one leaf. If the fruit falls off, it’s ready to eat.” The riper the fruit, the sweeter, he adds, recommending passion fruit in particular be eaten overripe. But nothing should go to waste. “If fruit starts to turn black, I put in the freezer and later make myself smoothies.”
Cashew Juice Recipe
Four special juices are currently available at Samba:
Pineapple & Mint, Strawberry & Mint, Passion Fruit and Cashew juice. The latter uses the light, naturally sweet, tropical juice of the cashew apple from the cashew tree native to Brazil. Look for Cashew juice at natural and organic food stores like Whole Foods.
3 cups cashew juice
2 cups water
4 cups ice
Honey, agave or sweetener of choice (to taste)
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Garnish with mint. Makes 4 servings.
Cozy, homey, romantic, softly lit authentic Brazilian restaurant, owned and operated by Ilson Goncalves and modeled after his mother’s home and restaurant in Blumenau, Brazil. Chef Roberto Carnero’s menu features authentic homestyle Brazilian cooking found nowhere else in NJ. Simple, high integrity; with emphasis on fresh vegetables, fish and herbs.
7 Park Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
Type of Cuisine: Brazilian
Price Range: $$
Monday -Thursday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Closed all major holidays except for Mother’s Day
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