Feb 23, 2009

First impressions of Vito restaurant, in São Paulo

Vito. Strangely enough, this casual and tiny restaurant in the Vila Beatriz district of São Paulo is making huge waves in the restaurant scene. The chef André Mifano aims to serve simple Italian fare in a very dressed-down ambiance, and, to some extent, suceeds.

The restaurant is quite spare: one brick-covered wall, one burgundy wall, one mammoth mirror and not much else.

The specialty here is pork belly - which he serves with a Granny Smith risotto. Considering the temperatures in the city have been reaching scorching highs, I could not bring myself to order it.

Instead, I started with polenta with blue cheese. Or was it blue cheese with polenta? Either way, I found it quite heavy and salty.

My friend ordered a simple salad of greens and squid which was much better and suited to the season:

I had a taste of a great seafood risotto said to be prepared in the manner of Neapolitan prostitutes (!). My spaghetti bolognese was very tasty, also, but the meat was on the chewy side.

The rib-eye marinated in olive oil and garlic and then grilled was pleasant enough, but was partly spoiled by the eggplant parmegiana that had soaked up too much of the oil it was fried in.

A curious tidbit: the chef has never been to Italy but chooses to write his menu in Italian.

Lunch ended with two simple desserts. A cheese tartlet topped with an orange gelee, with chocolate in the crust, and a pannacotta with a wine-flavoured coulis of sorts.

In short, Vito is pleasant enough, but not worth the detour if you choose to stay in Jardins or Itaim when visitting São Paulo.

Vito: Rua Pascoal Vita, 329, Vila Beatriz, tel. 3032-1469

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