Downtown oasis
Copacabana stands out with Italian-Brazilian fusion
by By Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Dec 25, 2013 | 3669 views | 0 0 comments | 95 95 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mussels Brazilian style
Mussels Brazilian style
Driving past 11th Street and Broadway in Bayonne it might be easy to miss the little storefront that is the Copacabana Grill, but if you do you’ll be missing a world of taste.

“The Copa” looks small from the outside, but when you walk in, you’ll see a large bar to the left and four tables to the right.

Walking back farther, you enter the attractive main dining room, a portent of the fine cuisine that awaits.

The restaurant’s menu is diverse, but not too long, offering five to eight choices in about a half dozen categories, at affordable prices, with only steak and lamb entrees above $20.

The appetizer portions were large and varied for the price: The mussels Brazilian style, with sausage, white beans, onions, peppers, and a red sauce was the Copa’s take on an Italian classic. The mussels were small in size, but big in taste. The white beans added an unexpected flavor, and with the addition of the sausage, the dish was more like an entrée.

The other appetizer was a special of the day: grilled shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, served on a bed of apples, cranberries, and pineapples, and topped with crispy noodles. The salty-smoked flavor of the prosciutto and shrimp was balanced by the fruit, complemented by a surprising orange-and-sugar sauce.

The first entrée was sautéed shrimp with puree of pumpkin and coconut milk over rice, an unusual blend of ingredients, offering unexpectated tastes.

The other entrée was Veal Abana, sautéed with shrimp, peas, scallops, and porcini sauce. With a chicken broth base, sherry wine, heavy cream, and honey, the dish had a slightly sweet taste. If you enjoy carbonara, this dish was that and much more, with the additions of veal, shrimp, and scallops.

The desserts also had a Brazilian flair. Instead of the traditional coffee flavor, the Copa’s tiramisu had a milk-and-chocolate liqueur base.

The tres leches indeed had “three milks.” A sponge cake with a rice pudding-like taste and consistency, it was very good and not overly sweet.

Jeffrey Orlowski was part of a group of nine at a nearby table, celebrating his parent’s 49th wedding anniversary.

“I had the Veal Sorrentino and it was excellent,” Jeffrey said.

“I think it’s a very nice place,” said his wife Kristi. “I like the ambiance. I think the food is very good.”

The service was superb, with waiter Jorge Ramirez jovial and attentive.

The spacious main dining room holds 18 tables and seats 50-75 people. Call ahead if you have a party of 10 or more. The room has a European touch, with 12 paintings on the walls, all for sale.

Luigi Ribas is one of the owners.

“I was talking with my partner and I said we have to do something different in town,” Ribas said. “A lot of people like Italian food and we said, ‘Let's add the Brazilian and mix it up a bit.’”

The Copacabana Grill is at 269 Broadway, at the corner of 11th Street. It is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 3 to 11; Saturdays from 1 to 11; and Sundays from 1 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (201) 443-2347.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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