Marco Moreira and Jo-Ann Makovitzky, the husband-and-wife restaurateurs, have not exactly rushed to expand. After opening the upscale French restaurant Tocqueville in 2000, they waited seven years to move it down the street, so they could launch the Michelin starred sushi den 15 East in its former dining room.
That was it for another six years, until they opened The Fourth, an all-day American brasserie in the new Hyatt Union Square, which landed with a thud. The critics mostly ignored it, and that may have been an act of kindness. Reviewing for the Daily News, Michael Kaminer said the restaurant felt like it belonged in an airport: “everything feels vetted by committee, from office-suite décor to a meek menu with just enough Food Network flourishes to excite out-of-towners.”
Makovitzky later told the Village Voice that the bi-level space was too large. Over the summer, they turned the basement into a month-long Brazilian pop-up called Botequim (Portuguese for pub), which was successful enough to take over the space permanently. Mr. Moreira, the chefly half of the duo, is from Brazil, so it is perhaps a bit surprising that he waited so long to showcase the cuisine of his native land.
Thereis much to admire about Botequim. The strong wine list (unfortunately not online) offers a heavy dose of Portuguese and South American wines not often featured at New York restaurants. (We were pleased with the 2010 Quinta do Carmo: $47.) The menu is modestly priced, with most appetizers $15 or less, and most entrées in the $20s.