Nilton Coelho, owner of Banana Brazil at 124 Hanover St. in Meriden, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Meriden restaurant captures unique flavors of Brazil

Meriden restaurant captures unique flavors of Brazil

Meriden restaurant captures unique flavors of Brazil

reporter photo

MERIDEN — Capturing the flavors of his native Brazil is something local restaurant owner Nilton Coelho takes very seriously — right down to the charcoal he uses to grill a variety of traditional meats. 

Banana Brazil, 124 Hanover St., offers self-serve buffet-style food with a focus on Brazilian dishes. Multiple styles of meat are cooked daily above charcoal imported from Brazil to preserve the flavors of traditional Brazilian barbecue, according to Coelho. Among the meats the restaurant grills are sirloin, ribs, sausages, brisket, chicken and pork loin.

Fresh orange juice, wine, beer and a variety of dessert options can also be found on the menu. Eat-in and take-out options are available.

Coelho also owns Banana Brazil restaurants in Danbury, Hartford and two in Waterbury.

The Meriden location became a reality because local customers traveled to the restaurant in Waterbury and asked Coelho to open a location in the city. He explained that COVID-19 was a challenge for the business overall, and the Meriden location was the one that saw the sharpest decline in customers. Things are now picking up again, he said.

Coelho said the Meriden police and fire departments, and the city of Meriden have been big supporters of his business. 

The menu is similar in every restaurant but certain items vary in the different locations because patrons are from different regions in Brazil and the menu at each location is reflective of those regions. Coelho noted everything is cooked from scratch but customers tend to get the grilled meat often as they can see it when it's being cooked. He said many people who are into fitness visit the restaurant because of the number of options offered.

‘Felt like home’ 

Coelho, 42, was born in Brazil and came to the United States in 1995, when he was a teenager. He came to visit his niece with no intention of living in the country. But he decided to stay because he realized he could get a lot from living in the United States including learning about different cultures. “It felt like home,” he said. “I love this country.”

Starting out in the business world was challenging, he said, in part because he had to learn English, including terminology used in restaurants. Despite the obstacles that may arise, he believes anyone who wants to succeed in this country can do it with hard work and honesty, he said. “I got more than I dreamed for,” he said.

Diego De Mendonca, of Danbury, was at the Meriden location on Wednesday having lunch. He has been a customer for a while of the Meriden, Danbury and Waterbury locations. De Mendonca said he works as a truck driver so going to the Meriden location is convenient because it has a big parking lot.  “The food is good and always fresh,” he noted. “The price is fair, everything is clean.”

Jeffrey Canales, of Waterbury was also at the Meriden restaurant on Wednesday. He said he enjoys the food and the service.

Irvin Peña drives from New York to Meriden on certain work days. Wednesday was his second time at Banana Brazil. He said the restaurant is “very good” and the food is “excellent.”

For more information about Banana Brazil, call 203-440-9151 or visit www.bananabrazilgrill.com.

Reporter Karla Santos can be reached at ksantos@record-journal.com.



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