August 6, 2009


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A great new place to meat
Where’s the beef?
At na Brasa, it’s everywhere

One of the many “gauchos” at na Brasa carves up one of the 14 meat dishes that are served at tableside

At na Brasa, which just opened in May at 680 N. Easton Rd., across the road from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station (Route 611), a mile and a half off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, about 15 to 20 minutes from Chestnut Hill, you might say there’s always a thriller on the griller.

na Brasa, which means “on amber” in Portuguese (in other words, the burned wood that is still glowing and is used to grill), is a churrascaria, or authentic Brazilian steakhouse. Believe me, no matter how many steakhouses you may have been to, they are nothing like naBrasa, the only restaurant of its kind in the suburbs. (Two Brazilian steakhouses, Fogo de Chao and Chima, are in center city, but their prices are much higher than at naBrasa.)

First of all, there is no menu. A meal is a Bacchanalian parade of all-you-can-eat salads and side dishes, as well as 14 different cuts of meat plus swordfish and salmon served on skewers in theatrical style by an army of servers dressed as gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina and southern Brazil. They are fitted with the traditional billowing black pants, red neckerchiefs, wide leather belts and puffy shirts. Like bees, they buzz around the dining room, stopping at each table that is ready for main course service.

Genius new inventions from unheralded Local columnist

If you haven’t seen me out and about lately, it’s because I’ve been busy inventing things. Like my inspirational role models, Ron Popeil and Gyro Gearloose, I just love making gadgets and gizmos that improve peoples’ lives.

No matter what the economic climate, innovative individuals will always prosper. In America, we call such people “entrepreneurs,” and I am proud to be one of them. Without further ado, here are some of my latest creations:

Dinner and a show at Campbell’s Place (an art show)
Dave Toporowski, 48, of Plymouth Meeting, shows one of the pieces he currently has on display at Campbell’s Place, 8337 Germantown Ave., through Aug. 15. This one is called “Many Faces, One Soul.”

When Dave Toporowski, 48, and his wife Beverly dined with their two daughters at Campbell’s Place last spring, they planned for a nice family night out.  What they got was much more.

Campbell’s owner, Vanessa Mullen, stopped at their table to check on their meal and, as she often does with customers, began a conversation. Toporowski, a decorative painter, inquired about displaying art work in the restaurant. By the time Mullen left the table, they had a deal. Toporowski would create two to three pieces within the next few weeks; if Mullen liked them, he would be invited to display additional pieces at the popular pub.

 Toporowski was thrilled. The next few weeks were spent creating three pieces for Mullen’s review. Using tempered hardboard built up with a texture of grout, joint compound and, “anything else in my workshop,” Toporowski created silhouette, life-like displays which blended into their backgrounds. These are then painted in vibrant hues with metallic undertones and finished with an acrylic compound.

Fine Pastorius concert series comes to disappointing end

The 2009 summer season of concerts in Pastorius Park came to a disappointing end on Wednesday, July 29. Instead of hearing the Hot Club of Philadelphia perform “potent gypsy jazz” out in the park, I met another gentleman who, like me, had called the given phone number for weather cancellations and hadn’t been informed that the concert, indeed, had been cancelled.