I'll admit it—I'm a carnivore from way back. As much as I've eaten one cheeseburger for probably every cell in my body, traditional American style barbeque can get a little boring—after burgers and dogs, there's ribs and roast, but still not too much variety. If you're of like mind, take a trip to Eurogrill in Caldwell (460 Bloomfield Ave.) to give your taste buds a barbeque boost of the Portuguese kind.
Eurogrill is a lot roomier inside than it appears from the outside; when entering, there's a counter with seating and tables to the right. Walls are painted a yellow-gold color, which offers a nice contrast to the lower parts of the long wall along the table, which has a real stone finish. Ceiling fans complete the "light and airy" feel.
Part of the kitchen—and definitely the best part of it—is behind the counter: An authentic Portuguese grill, which cooks meats and fish on metal skewers that rotate over flames. The term "mouth watering" has probably never been applied to fireworks, but the shooting embers over the grilling meats make it so.
I brought my son along with me—at 9 years old, he's already a veteran at running out to eat with me, and we've gone to many Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants together before (they're basically the same).
The menu contains a lot of items, and is well-divided among beef, pork, chicken and seafood platters and sandwiches. Appetizers are plenteous, and there's even a special "low calorie/low carb" menu. Kids are offered their own selections. Add in the soup of the day, and weekday lunch and weekend specials, and there is certainly something for everyone—including an authentic lineup of desserts.
Most dish items come with fries, or fries and rice, or fries and vegetables, so they can be on the heavy side, but things get lighter on lettuce—a selection of mixed greens salads is offered, including tuna ($7.95). Likewise, that "low-Calorie/Low Carb" menu, which features fare such as a grilled chicken and veggie shish kabob ($5.95) that comes with just yellow rice.
I wasn't into any of that low-cal stuff. So out of a lineup of appetizers that favors seafood-based creations 6-2, I decided on the shrimp in garlic sauce ($10.95).
It arrived in just moments along with a hunk of lightly toasted bread and my son and I dug in. At the table, the shrimp, which were small but just right for this dish, were piled high in the still-simmering garlic sauce. The shrimp were tender and the sauce was just spicy enough and addicting. The whole platter was good to the last drop—the bread made sure the kid and I didn't miss a molecule.
For our entrees, my son opted to a have a "half order" of pork ribs—items listed under the "Barbeque/Churrasco" menu are available in that or "full size." Portion wise, it wasn't lacking in any way. There were a good 5 to 6 rib pieces on the plate (I grabbed one), next to the almost too many fries and the yellow rice. The ribs were meaty and the rice buttery—"I love it!" my son exclaimed through bites.
I went with a platter that had chicken, chorizo (Portuguese sausage) and hot peppers, all in a light brown sauce ($13.95). The chicken pieces were huge, cooked just right. The sausage pieces were larger than most places. Even with holding back on the mountainous fries and rice, I couldn't finish all of the meat. Besides, that wouldn't leave room for dessert.
Desserts at Eurogrill include traditional Portuguese desserts like flan, and there was also an interesting item called "sawdust." I ordered it based on the name, and the "wood particles" were actually crumbled up Portuguese cookies, in a mousse-like cream that was absolutely delicious.
Waitress and hostess Cissa Lopez has been working at Eurogrill for just over three months. Between seating customers and taking orders in the dining room and over the phone, she pauses to tell me that she "also likes the restaurant—I mean that personally." Lopez is Brazilian—easy going and friendly, and she certainly knows her chorizo (as well as Xuxa).
What about folks in The Caldwells—do they? "More and more people are starting to know we're just a great taste at a great price," she said.
I'm in the know.
Address: 460 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell
Web site: www.eurogrill.net (In addition to a menu, there are also online coupons).
Serving: Sit-down lunch and dinner, takeout, delivery and catering
Reservations: recommended, but not required
Liquor: BYOB. My recommendation: bring Brazilian Brahma or Skol beer
Cost: low to mid-priced
Recommended: the garlic shrimp appetizer (also available as a main course)
Bottom line: Eurogrill is going to save this writer a few trips to Newark to get authentic Portuguese cuisine. The prices are great—and the parking is better. It's nice to have a restaurant like this in The Caldwells.