November 16, 2012 | 6:10am
Recently, City Place in West Palm Beach has become home to several new establishments, one of which is Pampas Brazilian Grille, a Nevada-based restaurant specializing in Brazilian churrasco that's set to open Friday, November 16.
A churrascaria is a South American-style steakhouse, and churrasco -- which roughly translates to the word barbecue in Portuguese -- is a selection of grilled meats offered rodizio-style where large cuts of beef, pork, chicken and fish are carved table-side from their roasting spits.
The first Pampas location opened in Las Vegas in 2004, followed by a second restaurant in Palo Alto, California. West Palm Beach will be the chain's third location, but one of many to be found in South Florida in the coming years, said Pampas director of business development Bill Drexel.
"We like South Florida, and plan on expanding as we continue to grow," Drexel told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. Drexel, who has been with the Pampas restaurant group since its inception, has been instrumental in shaping the Pampas concept, adding a personal touch to everything from the menu to customer service guidelines.
According to Drexel, Pampas chefs and staff are trained to embrace the restaurant's unique focus on customer service -- which means Pampas is probably the only restaurant where it's encouraged to request the removal of certain ingredients, or make a special request of the chef. Say you want a meal prepared without salt. No problem. In the mood for something that isn't on the menu? Simply ask, and you shall receive. Want a half portion for half the price? That's perfectly acceptable.
"Part of what makes this restaurant concept so successful is our ability to have nearly every ingredient you need to make any dish on hand at any time," said Drexel. "That means if you want the chef to make you a special dish, we can do it, and we won't charge you an arm and a leg, either."
Another bonus that sets Pampas apart from other Brazilian barbecue establishments is its expansive side and salad bar, which features more than 50 hot and cold selections to pair with the seemingly endless skewers of rodizio grilled meats. The same goes for the liquid refreshment, with its well-rounded wine list of reasonably priced wines by the glass and bottle, including a daily $6 house special. The bar and lounge area will also feature a drink menu of 10 signature martinis all priced at $11, and nine specialty cocktails priced $8 to $10, including a classic or flavored caipirinha for a traditional Brazilian pairing.
The lunch and dinner menus begin with meat or vegetarian rodizio, your choice of eight different meats seasoned with nothing but olive oil and sea salt ($19.95 to $46.95), followed by a short list of entree-style dishes, sandwiches and arepas. Another menu highlight, the housemade fresh pao de queijo, a small cheese bread popular in Bolivia and Brazil.
The Pampas signature dish is its surf and turf rodizio, where you can have your fill of all the churrasco meats, as well as an unlimited amount of shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, salmon, and the fresh catch of the day ($26.95 for lunch; $46.95 for dinner) at a price Drexel says is one of the best deals around.
The same goes for private parties and events -- where nearly any food theme or desire can be fulfilled, said Drexel, even Greek and Italian, to Chinese.
"Think of Pampas as the No. 1 banquet destination for City Place," said Drexel, of the restaurant's 10,000 square feet of interior space that boasts several dining rooms that can accommodate events numbering 20 to 130 people, all while serving lunch and dinner to daily patrons. "We want to be known as the best spot to have your corporate event, birthday party, quinceanera [Spanish for "Sweet 16"], or holiday celebration."
Pampas Brazilian Grille is located in City Place at the corner of Rosemary Ave. and Okeechobee Blvd. next to Ruth Chris Steak House at 651 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Pampas will be open for dinner this Friday, November 16. Lunch service will begin in December, when the restaurant will incorporate regular business hours from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Sunday. For more information visit the website, or call 561-791-6487.