Rio’s top 5 fine dining restaurants

 

The Hotel Cipriani Restaurant, Copacabana Palace, Avenida Atlantica

Back in the 1920s, when Brazil was a favoured retreat for Hollywood stars and European royalty, there was only one place to stay for the jet-set holidaying in Rio: the Copacabana Palace. This beautiful Art Deco hotel, while now dwarfed by newer buildings, still stands out on the Avenida Atlantica for its air of luxurious grandeur, and it is also still the showcase hotel of Rio. You would naturally expect this standard of hotel to host a leading restaurant and the Copacabana Palace has a peach, playing host to the Hotel Cipriani Restaurant. The head chef here is Francesco Carli, who previously worked at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, from where the restaurant takes its name. He has brought many of the famous dishes from the Venice hotel with him to Rio and when you dine here you can expect to be served the very finest in North Italian cuisine.

Sample dishes:
Quail tortelloni cooked in its own sauce with shiimeji and Taleggio cream
Veal cutlet flavoured with truffles, “baroa” noisette potato and sautéed artichokes

Casa de Arte e Cultura Julieta de Serpa, 3410 Praia do Flamengo

The story goes that during the 1910s, a husband wanted to give his wife the most beautiful house in Rio and the resulting mansion now forms the Casa de Arte e Cultura Julieta de Serpa. Whether the story is true or not, we can certainly say that the cuisine on offer in the restaurant here matches the elegance of the surroundings perfectly. Chef Elizeu Ferreira serves up cuisine in a classic French style but with distinctly Brazilian ingredients such as coconut-crusted grilled salmon with Sicilian lemon risotto whilst the on-site pâtissier Maurício Ferreira ensures the fine-dining experience extends onto the dessert menu. The wine is treated with just as much respect as the food here and sommelier João Souza has chosen some 200 labels which he feels harmonizes with Ferreira’s creations.

Sample dishes:
Lamb carré in a spice sauce with aracacha mousseline
Magret de canard in a Port sauce with Grana Padano risotto

Sushi Leblon, 256 Rua Dias Ferreira

Something you might not realise about Brazil before your visit is the Japanese influence on the country. Many immigrants from Japan have learnt to call Brazil home and this means that you can get some of the best sushi here outside of Japan. In Rio there is one place on everyone’s lips when it comes to Japanese food: Sushi Leblon. At this small restaurant you will find exquisitely delicate creations made with great care by the expert chefs that work here. But do get here early as the queue to get in starts to build throughout the night as people clamour to get their hands on the decorative treats on offer.

Sample dishes:
Tuna roll with foi gras
Salmon crunch sashimi

Carlota, 64 Rua Dias Ferreira

When the first Carlota opened in Sao Paulo, it caused quite a stir with its mix of Brazilian, Portuguese and Asian cuisines and after winning such high-praise from no less than the New York Times, a Carlota sprung up in the Leblon district of Rio de Janeiro. For those looking for an intimate dining experience it’s at the top of the tree, and as well as superb cuisine, you can expect a warm, welcoming atmosphere here, perhaps down to the fact that its owners Carla and Fernando Pernambuco started their culinary career by running a friendly deli in Sao Paulo.

Sample dishes:
Manioc and creamy shrimp pan-fried cakes in banana leaf
Grilled smoked magret with caramelised orange sauce and petit cassoulet

Espirito Santa, 264 Rua Almirante Alexandrino

Fine-dining Brazilian style! Espirito Santa is where you want to come to get a taste of the real Brazil. Here you’ll be served piranha, para crabs from North-east Brazil and some delectable moquecas. Not only is the food here outstanding but the location too. Found in the Santa Teresa district of the city, the streets here are lined with trendy shops and galleries all built into the beautiful colonial houses that still line the streets in this neighbourhood. The district can be easily reached by the old tram from the Centro district and a trip to Espirito Santa can easily be combined with a day out in Santa Teresa. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to be staying in one of Santa Teresa’s boutique hotels, which fill the old plantation mansions here, then Espirito Santa is great place to have on your doorstep for a casual but upmarket dinner.

Sample dishes:
Marinated pork ribs, fried and garnished with caramelized onions; served with yam puree and graviola (Amazonian fruit) chutney
Filet of Tilapia with heart of palm stuffing, baked and served in banana leaves, with cream of banana scented with Amazonian ginger

Dan Clarke is a Director at Real World Holidays Ltd.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Gerard Moxon says:

    An excellent round up of the best restaurants in Rio. Made my mouth water just reading.

  2. Sushi Leblon is my favorite sushi restaurant in Rio! Its location and ambiance is fabulous, the food speaks for its self. I say its a MUST!!

  3. Marcio says:

    whoever goes downtown to eat in Rio is either crazy or… crazy.

    But, this is just a carioca speaking. Yeah, Espirito is really good. Last time I went? When I absolutely had to go downtown.

    If you do not have to, do not go. Dinners? no way!

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