Satisfying, no-frills Brazilian fare in Somerville
Restaurant Review: Panificadora Modelo
Brazilian food has always been on my list of cuisines to try and Panificadora Modelo made it exceedingly easy with its great prices and convenient Magoun Square location. After just a short walk from Tufts, I arrived at the nondescript Brazilian Bakery. The inside was clean but small and plain with the menu posted on the wall. Be forewarned: there are no prices posted but everything is so cheap that this shouldn’t be a problem.
The menu is in Portuguese and English, but without descriptions, so I picked a few things from the case of food and a few off the menu that looked appealing. The woman behind the counter was very patient while I deliberated and subsequently butchered the pronunciation of every dish I ordered.
From inside the glass case, I tried the pão de queijo grande (a Brazilian cheese bread), a coxinha (similar to a chicken croquette) and an enroladinho (almost like pigs in a blanket but with chicken inside). Pão de queijo is one of the most well-known dishes in Brazilian cuisine, but I wasn’t a fan. Perhaps it would have been great had it been fresh out of the oven, but my pão de queijo was cold and the cheese inside was hardened.
The coxinha and the enroladinho were improvements. Both contained a similar mixture of shredded chicken and subdued spices. The coxinha was a fried dough teardrop while the enroladinho had a slightly sweet bun that almost melted in your mouth as well as some cheese inside. They were both fairly similar, but I found the enroladinho to have a more interesting mix of flavor and texture as some bites of my coxinha were overwhelmed by the fried dough. Again, both of these are cold and so I’ll have to come back earlier in the day and try them when they are fresher.
The pastel de carne e queijo, however, came out of the kitchen piping hot. Certainly a dish to clog the arteries, the pastel de carne e queijo was a filling and delicious mix of soft yet crisp fried dough, creamy cheese, and mildly spiced, tender steak.
The real standouts of my meal, however, were the suco de goiaba (pictured above with the pastel de carne e queijo) and the pudim de leite. Panificadora Modelo has an array of interesting smoothies (such as the cashew fruit smoothie, which I must go back and try) and I opted for guava, suco de goiaba. It was light and refreshing and the perfect mix of sweet with a hint of sour to counter the rich, fried and fatty elements that dominated my meal. The pudim de leite was described to me as a “hard flan” by the woman behind the counter who was kind enough to go through all of their desserts with me explaining what each one was. It was incredible. It had the smooth and creamy texture of flan, but was significantly firmer. The rich and heavy coconut flavor with the hint of dulce de leche on the top and coconut crunch at the bottom was perfect.
Although it was a good meal for a great price (the most expensive thing I ordered was the smoothie at $3.50), it was clear to me that Panificadora Modelo is first and foremost a bakery and it was the desserts that are truly special.
Food (taste): B
Food (presentation): C+
508 Medford St.
Somerville, MA 02145