More than just an Italian cantina of the red-checkered tablecloth variety, Famiglia Mancini (Rua Avanhandava 81, Centro, tel. 11/3256-4320, www.famigliamancini.com.br, 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m. Sun.–Wed., 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m. Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–3 a.m. Fri.–Sat., R$40–60) is a phenomenon that keeps both Paulistanos and tourists lining up at the door year after year. Instead of alta cocina what you get is heaping portions (enough to feed two very hungry people) of every kind of pasta and sauce you can imagine. You could just as easily satiate your hunger at the banquet-like buffet of antipasti.
La Casserole (Largo do Arouche 346, Centro, tel. 11/3331-6283, www.lacasserole.com.br, noon–3 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 7 p.m.–midnight Tues.–Thurs., 7 p.m.–1 a.m. Fri.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., R$35–45) has hardly changed at all since it first opened in 1954. A quintessential Parisian bistro, its retro charm and bonhomie has long made it a favorite for discreet VIPs in search of classic French fare such as onion soup, duck à l’orange, and steak frîtes, prepared to perfection and served with flair by the attentive garçons. If you come for lunch during the week, take advantage of the R$35 three-course menu executivo.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition