By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As kites weave lazily on the horizon in front of the setting sun, the clear waves break continuously against the shore and a few people amble contently along the beach it is hard to believe that Atlantico Rio is a restaurant in a city. Housed in a kiosk tucked away at the east end of Barra beach, on Praia do Pepê, this new opening is where those in the know are going to quench their thirst, feast and unwind.
Atlantico Rio is the Brazilian off-spin of Buenos Aires speakeasy, Floreria Atlantico. Consistently in the World’s Top 50 Bars, guests there enter through a flower shop before descending downstairs to a hot and buzzing bar. It serves small plates from the grill with a cocktail menu that nods to the many immigrants that arrived in Argentina at the turn of the Twentieth Century.
Though the kiosk in Barra is different in location, it is similar in conception. The quality, innovation and service that Renato “Tato” Giovannoni and his wife, Aline Vargas, bring to the place does not falter. But being by the sea the atmosphere is laid back and the focus is on fresh fish and seafood, with seasonal ingredients and an ever-enticing drinks list.
“Both the food and the cocktails are mostly inspired by Portuguese and Italian immigrants that came to Rio,” explains Tato. The lula is bought live every morning and cooked simply on the grill. A whole white fish comes with salad or crunchy potatoes, and mayonnaise made with capers, onion, parsley and soft egg. The Bolinhos de Espinafre or Bacalhau (fried spinach or cod balls) are fast earning a reputation as the lightest and most delicate in the land.
Tato is not only one of the world’s leading mixologists but he also makes his own gin, Apostoles, the first from Argentina. Infused with eucalyptus, yerba mate and pink grapefruit it appears frequently on the cocktail menu, along with twists on the caipirinha, a selection of spritzes and European and Argentinean wines that change every week.
The menus here are hand-drawn, the bar is slung cleverly between two trees and the tables are scattered on the sand. The vibe is relaxed and informal, and with the chance to cool off in the nearby sea, there are few reasons to leave once you have arrived.
“Barra is a great area and Praia do Pepê is beautiful,” says Tato. “Very family friendly with a young artistic talented crowd too. I was willing to give my kids the chance to live on the beach – I think Rio is a great city for that and businesswise there are many things to do here. The kiosk idea was always in my mind. I always wanted to have another bar, a small Atlantico by the beach.”
Having run a successsful Floreria Atlantico pop-up bar at Art Rio in 2015 and now with the new restaurant, expect more innovative projects, quality cocktails and delicious food from this team.
What: Atlantico Rio
When: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 12PM to 8PM, Friday to Sunday from 12PM to midnight, closed Tuesdays.
Where: Avenida do Pepê ao 530 – Quiosque QB 4A/B, 22620-170
Additional Information: No reservations. Payment: Credit and debit cards. Phone: (21) 99611-2695