By Felicity Clarke, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Although often overshadowed by its rowdy neighbor Lapa and haughty hilltop sister Santa Teresa, Glória offers an alternative evening out with a range of cultural, eating and drinking options.
As with much of Rio the best way to start out is by taking a stroll. By day, a visit to the spectacular 18th century Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro up on the Morro da Glória is a must, but as evening draws in the golden lit palaces provide examples of the architectural decadence that meant the area was once known as the Paris of Rio.
Today, the imposing grandeur of Palácio São Joaquim backdrops street sellers lining the pavement with intriguing displays of vinyl records, books, retro household objects and trinkets neatly arranged against the palace walls.
Glória’s foodie gem is (arguably) the best pizzeria in the city. Tucked up on the quiet Rua Santa Cristina up to Santa Teresa, Pizzaria do Chico is a small unassuming boteco, locally famed for its authentic Italian pizzas. Started by Italian-Brazilian Chico Lallevato ten years ago after learning the craft in Northern Italy.
The pizzas are a lovingly prepared lesson in how it’s done: charred card-thin bases with a flour-dusted crisp and fulsome mozzarella cut through by a barely there tomato tang provide the foundation for a cabaret of different toppings. Recommended is the Parmeggiano with its house-marinated aubergine morsels of smoky taste sensation, plump black olives and fat parmesan shavings, although the close attention paid to the balance of flavors means any option is safe. A medium costs between R$19.90 and R$34.90 and is more than enough for two people.
For post-dinner entertainment and to walk off the pizza bloat, head to Cine Glória on Praça Luís de Camões. This underground bunker next to Hotel Glória (currently undergoing an exciting refurbishment) is worth a daytime visit for it’s memorial exhibition about the life and career of Getúlio Vargas, the popular former president of the Republic.
By night the adjoining cinema shows national and international movies and hosts cultural events including this month’s 47th Festival Villa-Lobos, a city-wide festival of Brazilian music.
In Glória there’s the more subdued pleasures of taking a ice cold chopp (draft light beer) at one of the chopperias at Praça Nossa Senhora da Glória and looking out onto a scene of architectural splendor and characterful bustle. Patti Smith was right about Gloria: she does look fine.
Pizzaria do Chico, Rua Santa Cristina, 21, open Monday – Saturday 16:00 – 23:30, Tel: (21) 2508 7180
Cine Glória, Praça Luís de Camões, Tel: (21) 2556-0781
Beco do Rato, R. Joaquim Silva, 11 , Tel: (21) 2508 5600