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Christiane and Osmar Melo, left with children Mariana and Douglas have opened Espetinho Carioca, a Brazilian restaurant, on North Street.

Brazilian Cuisine Comes to Berkshire County

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Espetinho Carioca's alcatra acebolada from its Facebook page.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Homemade Brazilian cuisine is now available to Berkshire County patrons thanks to the opening of Espetinho Carioca, located at 48 B North St. 
This family run restaurant is working to fill that niche, sharing recipes passed down by generations with the community.
The Melo family first shared their food with friends when they moved here from Rio De Janeiro. Berkshire County has a large Brazilian community but not many areas have authentic Brazilian cuisine, Mariana Melo said.
"It's also an honor to represent the Brazilians in the area and give them a place to come and eat and feel like home. Especially right now during winter. I'm sure the food helps a lot," Mariana's brother Douglas Melo said.
Diversity has been growing exponentially in Berkshire County over the past few years and with the opening of this restaurant, Mariana Melo says she hopes to be part of it. 
"I want us to be part of this growth. I want people to get to know more cultures and be open to that. So that's pretty much my main goal in terms of community here in Berkshire County," she said. 
Mariana is also looking forward to utilizing the skills she learned while majoring in business at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to further the restaurant's success. 
Restaurants they have gone to in the past may have had "Brazilian" in the name but they weren't very reminiscent of their home.
"It started with the staff, the music and the food. I think they tried too much to be a place for everyone that they ended up forgetting about Brazil," Douglas Melo said. "We wanted people to have Brazilian food, and it's good the way it is. So I feel like that's our goal here. People can come here, have good food, and then feel welcome." 
The Melo family wants to provide a welcoming place where people of all ethnicities can come together, meet new people, and experience the diverse culture of Brazil, he said, adding that the diversity that is ingrained in Brazil's history is what makes the country so special and that is reflected in the cuisine that they serve.
It was their father, Osmar Melo, whose entrepreneurial mind kicked in, encouraging his family to share the cuisine that they love with the community. 
The family patriarch has always been an entrepreneur, owning a business while living in Rio De Janeiro, Mariana Melo said. 
Their mother, Christiane Melo, does not cook with a recipe but rather she utilizes what she learned from her mother and grandmother while cooking with them as a child. 
"Food was always very important. Meals, like dinner or lunch, was a time that we would have to sit down and actually spend some family time together," Christiane Melo said through her daughter, who translated.
"So that's what I want the community to have, too. To spend time together and to have a time with food that they like and to just feel welcome and feel safe."
Food is an art that can evoke emotions such as nostalgia and happiness which is a beautiful thing to see, Mariana and her mother said. 
"I feel like food, not just Brazilian food, but I feel like food has a special magic to make you feel emotions or remember things just by eating a certain meal or a certain dish," Mariana Melo said. "So that's why I think food is just way more than just satisfying yourself but it has way more components to that."
She shared how it is great to hear that fellow Brazilians are reminded of their home and their families just by eating the Melos' food. 
The restaurant features a variety of authentic Brazilian cuisine including items such as Portuguese sausage, a tropeiro bean dish, salgadinhos (fried dough stuffed with cheese or savories), acai bowls, feijoada (a black bean and pork stew), skewers and the popular Brazilian Caju juice, a cashew apple juice. 
There are also some American favorites such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. 
Although they do not sell alcohol yet, they are looking to apply for a alcohol license in the future so that they can also start featuring Brazilian cocktails on their menu. 
The restaurant (in the former Shiro space) is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and offers a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

Tags: new business,   restaurants,   

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Pittsfield Council Tables FY24 Tax Rate Asks

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council has delayed a vote on the proposed fiscal year 2024 split tax rate.

Councilors on Tuesday voted to table the administration's ask for a commercial shift of 1.75 that would result in a residential rate of $18.45 per $1,000 of valuation and a commercial rate of $39.61 per $1,000. Discussion will resume at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren, Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick and at-Large Councilor Karen Kalinowsky spoke against the proposal that would increase the average homeowner's bill by 8.75 percent.  

Kalinowsky said the city has a spending problem and people cannot afford it — especially seniors.

"You are driving people out of Pittsfield," she said.

Kronick, who has a history of motioning to use free cash to reduce the burden on taxpayers, would like to know how much certified free cash the city has before making a decision on the rate. He said the tax levy of $109.1 million is a direct result of the budget that was passed in June, which he unsuccessfully proposed reductions for and then opposed.

"You can't run away from the numbers," he said. "They're gonna chase you down."

Warren asked that the administration be more creative with its sources for tax relief. Last year, he argued that American Rescue Plan Act funds can be used to pay for projects that are in the budget so that the money doesn't have to be raised by property taxes.

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