Brazil and Portugal come to Jersey City at Capoeira

Capoeira Restaurant in Jersey City
Capoeira Restaurant in Jersey City

The cultures of Brazil and Portugal have melded together at Capoeira Restaurant in Jersey City. The restaurant is named after the ancient martial art and dance form Capoeira, performed in Brazil’s communities for centuries. Capoeira originated in West Africa and was brought to Brazil by enslaved West Africans. It was a way of uniting the community and keeping their culture and spirituality alive.

As a child growing up in Brazil, Chef Willian Silva was inspired by his grandmother, Anair. She enjoyed cooking for the family, keeping them united. He would follow in her footsteps after becoming a police officer and cooking for his squad members in Brazil. Silva met his partner, Juca, who was a performing-arts student, 12 years ago and they came to Jersey City. It was in Jersey City that Chef Willian began cooking professionally.

He said he never dreamed that one day they would own a restaurant, saying, “The space emerged at a time when we needed to make a very important decision, which would completely change our lives.” Thus, Capoeira opened its doors on Oct. 24, 2023, in the heart of Jersey City, adjacent to City Hall.

Besides the authentic Brazilian dishes, Chef Willian incorporated Portuguese cuisine into the menu. He wants to bring familiar food to the community. House specialties include Portuguese casserole with salt cod in bechamel sauce, grilled salmon with passion fruit sauce and palm hearts, strip steak in coffee sauce with yuca fries, and traditional “Feijoada” a Brazilian stew with black beans and pork. For lighter appetites, try the Capoeira salad or the Amazon salad, both with homemade vinaigrette.

The lunch menu will please everyone, from baked empanadas to Portuguese chorizo. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays. Sweet and savory waffles are mouth watering, with your choice of sweet pumpkin jam and passionfruit sauce or eggs and chorizo.

No matter if you are there for lunch or dinner, always save room for dessert. End your meal with Brazilian chocolate truffles or a customer favorite, the “Pastel de Nata,” a Portuguese custard with homemade gelato.

Chef William Silva  at Capoeira Restaurant
Chef William Silva at Capoeira Restaurant in Jersey City

Chef Willian loves exploring and creating original dishes and said his least favorite thing is not being able to create dishes. Although Capoeira is steeped in both Brazilian and Portuguese traditions, there are always new seasonal additions to the menus. Winter brings comforting homemade soups, and then lighter fare begins in the summer. This year on Valentine’s Day they had a special prix fixe menu, as well as on Christmas and New Year’s.

Whether on a date or celebrating a family occasion, the inside is warm and inviting, with soft lighting, wood plank floors, and eclectic artwork. When the weather permits, sit outside under the green striped awning, even for a latte or cortado.

Capoeira was opened as a family restaurant that would bring the community together. They are always looking for ways to bring the LGBTQ community together through special events and by participating in Pride events. The partners pride themselves on welcoming all and bringing diversity to their restaurant.

Chef Willian said his best advice to someone aspiring to be in the restaurant business is to “just cook.” It is the best way to discover what you want to do, whether it’s classic, regional, or contemporary cuisine. Capoeira has proven that all can be mastered.

They are committed to cooking for the entire community of Jersey City and enjoying their unique and special moment. Their determination and dedication show in everything they do to make Capoeira a special part of Jersey City.