With the opening of Bráz (Rua Maria Angélica 129, Jardim Botânico, tel. 21/2535-0687, www.casabraz.com.br, 6:30 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Sun.–Thurs., 6:30 p.m.–1:30 a.m. Fri.–Sat., R$30–40), 2007 became known as the year that São Paulo pizza (deemed the best in Brazil) finally invaded Rio. Topped with the freshest ingredients, these fine-crust pizzas—touted as “paintings you can eat”—taste as great as they look. The house specialty, the caprese, comes adorned with artisanal buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, giant basil leaves, and white olive pesto.
One of Brazil’s most stellar chefs, Claude Troisgros migrated from Paris to Rio 25 years ago and started a (culinary) revolution by marrying sophisticated French cooking techniques with the unusual textures, flavors, and colorful fresh produce distinctive to Brazil. You can savor Troisgros’s surprisingly original and visually striking creations at Olympe (Rua Custódio Serrão 62, Jardim Botânico, tel. 21/2539-4542, www.claudetroisgros.com.br, 7:30 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Fri., R$80–90), situated in a lovely house that is both as unpretentious and refined as the menus themselves (Troisgros offers several).
The “Epecialidades” menu features classic creations such as quail stuffed with farofa, raisins, and pearl onions, and bathed in a sauce of jabuticabas (a purplish native fruit not unlike a blackcurrant). The “Criatividade” menu allows you to taste test the chef’s current experiments: recent results include grilled Amazonian fish in a creamy sorrel sauce with asparagus. Finally, truly adventurous souls can splurge on the R$168 “Confiance” menu, a four-dish tasting feast that Troisgros dreams up daily according to the ingredients at hand and whatever inspires him.
Foodies eager to sample Troisgros’s culinary wizardry but without the deep pockets necessary for Olympe needn’t despair—Troisgros has opened the more affordable 66 Bistrô (Av. Alexandre Ferreira 66, Jardim Botânico, tel. 21/2266-0838, www.66bistro.com.br, noon–4 p.m., 7:30 p.m.–12:30 a.m. Tues.–Sun., R$25–40). With his son, Thomas, in charge of the kitchen, this charming Parisian-style bistro is already the place to lunch—apparently not even celebrities can resist a weekday “executive” menu whose buffet of antipasti, salads, and several main dishes costs a mere R$28 (R$34 if you succumb to the desserts). Evenings and weekends, the menu is à la carte. A favorite house specialty is the chicken roasted in Dijon mustard.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition