While São Paulo boasts a star-studded list of world-class restaurants, Rio has never been known as a dining destination, but rather as a city of laid-back sensuality and stunning natural beauty: beaches, rock cliffs, lush rainforest… That reputation is changing with the recent opening of outposts of some São Paulo’s top eateries.
First came Nakombi, in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood, which introduced São Paulo’s high-style sushi to the cariocas (as Rio natives are called), in a dazzling space with an open grill and a carp-laden pond. Sadly, it has since gone bust and closed.
Only steps away, Casa Bráz is a top-notch pizza place with beautiful retro décor (think antique tile floors and dark wood cabinetry holding old glass bottles). As at the São Paulo flagship, waiters in white jackets and bow-ties serve impeccable pizzas topped with specialty cheeses and marinated eggplant and zucchini, and its famous ice-cold draft beer. On weekends, the wait for a table can be longer than two hours.
But the most talked about arrival is the Fasano Al Mare, a seafood-heavy version of Fasano, which is São Paulo’s most chic restaurant. Occupying the ground floor of newly-opened Fasano hotel, in Ipanema, with a dramatic entrance with a seashell display (below), wind-blown curtains and lighted plaques designed by none other than Philippe Starck, the Al Mare has become Rio’s number one place to eat, see and be seen.
Chef Luca Gozzoni, brought in from Florence after twelve years at the Michelin three-star Enoteca Pinchiorri, cooks up a menu of carpaccios, assorted fish in light Italian-leaning preparations and the signature dish, the bollito di mare, brimming with all things aquatic in an aromatic broth.
Bráz: Rua Maria Angélica, 129, Rio, tel. 55-21-2535-0687, www.casabraz.com.br
Fasano Al Mare: Avenida Vieira Souto, 80, Rio, tel. 55-21-3202-4000, www.fasano.com.br