John Batista has searched online extensively, and he hasn’t seen any type of Portuguese restaurant in the area like the one he and his brother are bringing to Cary this spring.
Batista, 42, and his 44-year-old brother, Paul Batista, are bringing the family business from Long Island, N.Y., to North Carolina. They are opening Lume Grill (pronounced Loo-me) to the former Pita Bon spot in a shopping center at 1207 Kildaire Farm Road.
“Lume” means “open flame,” John Batista said.
The restaurant is undergoing renovations and is expected to open at the beginning of or in mid-April, he said.
Batista emphasizes that their restaurant is Portuguese cuisine from Portugal, not Brazil, where the language also is spoken. The barbecue steakhouse is known for its whole chicken rotisserie cooked over wood charcoal.
That said, the restaurant also will serve Rodizio-style food, where the meat is carved at the table, that’s familiar in Brazilian steakhouses.
“Rodizio literally means ‘rotisserie,’ ” he said. “It’s not how it’s cooked, but how it’s served,” John Batista said. “We incorporated it because we had the setup for it. That’s more of a South American thing.”
Batista and his family moved to the United States from Portugal when he and his brother were young children.
The family has owned five or six restaurants in Long Island with the same concept. First, there was Churrasqueira Bairrada Restaurant, which got its start as “literally a storefront with four tables,” Batista said. The name is for a region in North Central Portugal, where the style of food originates.
They served whole chicken rotisserie in a tiny place that would prompt diners to wait in line around the corner just to enter. They ventured into steaks and pork and soon outgrew the spot and moved across the street. Batista and his brother no longer are connected to the restaurant that was run by his sister, but there are other variations of it around Long Island with names like Luso and Brasa. Paul started Brasa.
Paul Batista decided to expand to Cary. He is Lume Grill’s chef while John handles the business side and front-of-house operations.
“It’s a fairly unique concept,” John said. “We’ve done well in all the locations.”
After diners are served olives, bread and salad, they have several options.
They can order a la carte: steaks, pork, chicken and fish, for example. Sides such as homemade french fries, chips, rice or vegetables are served family-style.
Or they can order the rodizio style, even if the rest of the table isn’t doing the same. A server will bring 12 to 14 meats to the table – all you can eat. Sides that come with the rodizio food include black beans, fried banana, a vinaigrette sauce, sautéed collard greens and farofa (a cassava flower condiment). Those dishes can be ordered separately as an extra side with any entree.
The meat is cooked in a basting sauce made of garlic and spices, a family recipe.
“The chicken has been one of the best selling things,” he said. “The rodizio is a close second with the meats and variety. The skirt steak is one of my absolute favorites.”
There will be a children’s menu. Some traditional Portuguese recipes, like soups and stews, will be served on occasion.
And while the restaurant is family friendly, it also will have a casual-to-upscale feel to it, Batista said.
“We look forward to introducing this concept,” he said.