A few days ago I stopped by my local library (Barnes & Noble), and leafed through the Michelin guidebook's section on Queens. The only restaurant I'd never heard of was one called Malagueta. So I asked my computer about it. I found their website (link below), and I also learned that Jim Leff wrote this about it, in 2001. "Malagueta (25-35 36th Ave., corner of 28th St., 718-937-4821), the tristate area's best Brazilian in Long Island City, where a very talented, deft chef cooks his heart out to an empty room. THAT'S a place that needs our support." So of course I just had to go.
I found it in a part of Astoria I'd never been. It was an empty room, though three couples showed up as I was eating. And though I haven't eaten in all that many Brazilian restos, and those that I did served rodizio grilled meats, I wouldnt be surprised if it is indeed the best Brazilian. Although the chef trained at Troisgros in France, so the food is his own Gallic inspired take on the classics, and not straight traditional mama's cooking. I ordered moqueca de camarao, a shrimp stew with rice. I asked for the stew to be served in a separate plate, so it wouldnt get lost in the rice. It came, beautifully served in a ramekin, six plump beauties in a sauce rich with palm oil and redolent of coconut milk. Cubes of tomato, onion and cilantro pieces added flavor. It was very good and I cant wait to try more dishes.
The portion was ample, though far from huge, but I was feeling piggish so I stopped at nearby Copacabana Pizza & Grill for some salgadinhos, toothsome Brazilian empanadas. The codfish was best, flavored with olives. Then I strolled up 36 Av, past Ecuadorian, Mexican and Bangladeshi places, all of which bear future investigation.
Photo of moqueca de camarao from a Brazilian website, but it looked like what I got, more or less: