By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Three restaurants founded by a trio of entrepreneurs are creatively blending unique ambiances with internationally-influenced cuisine in Rio. The restaurants; Miam Miam, Oui Oui and the recently opened, Mira!, all focus on the idea of “comfort food” and were founded by chef Roberta Ciasca and partners; Danni Camilo and Steph Quinquis.
After Roberta Ciasca graduated with a degree in marketing and administration in 1998, she left Brazil to study at the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Upon returning, for ten years she honed her talents, eventually as a chef while serving celebrities and other important figures in the country.
In 2005 Danni Camilo and Steph Quinquis joined Ciasca to launch their first restaurant, Miam Miam. Located in a Botafogo home that once belonged to Ciasca’s grandmother, the interior of Miam Miam features a retro decorating style that encompasses several decades from 50s to 70s.
The name, Miam Miam, is a French onomatopoeia meaning “delicious food” and the restaurant’s menu is French-influenced with a focus on constant ongoing innovation of traditional dishes.
Since its opening Miam Miam has been well received by Rio restaurant critics. “From Tuesday to Saturday we are full,” Miam Miam manager, Jô Pereira told The Rio Times. “Fifty percent are from reservations already booked and the other fifty percent are first come first serve. We are full every night.”
After the success of their first endeavor, Caisca, Camilo and Quinquis opened a second restaurant, Oui Oui in 2009. Located in a former mansion in the neighborhood of Humaitá, the interior of the restaurant is divided into two main spaces. One space is done in 20s Art Deco style decorations and the other features a 70s theme, complete with a mirror disco balls and fiberglass tables and chairs.
The restaurant’s menu only offers small portions with no differences between appetizers and main courses. The idea is to foster a more communal eating experience with by sharing dishes around the table.
Critics were impressed again by the restaurant trio’s newest creation and Rio Show de Gastronomia awarded Oui Oui “The Best Novelty Restaurant” award in 2009.
Recently in March, Ciasca, Camilo and Quinquis debuted their latest restaurant, Mira!. Housed in Casa Daros – an exhibit space for Latin American art in the Botafogo neighborhood, Mira! offers a lunch menu with a salad bar featuring vegetarian, vegan and raw options that can be eaten as a main course.
There are also meat options available including, grilled spring chicken, baked pork ribs and sauteed shrimp and squid. During the late afternoon Mira! offers a special tapas menu. Dishes designed by Ciasca include; Rillete duck with figs, caramel and toast; shrimp salsa and cream of asparagus in water tomato; spicy pork with salad; and pumpkin fritters with goat cheese.
“Each restaurant really has it’s own menu,” Steph Quinquis told The Rio Times. “What makes them different from other restaurants are the concepts. The comfort food leaves people at ease. They are being very receptive. They are liking it, thank God.”
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