By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As a cosmopolitan city and global destination, some immigrants and expatriates have brought culinary styles with them to the Cidade Maravilhosa, sharing tastes from home with Cariocas and fellow travelers. Here are five of some of the best European restaurants in Rio de Janeiro.
Restaurante A Polonesa (Copacabana)
This beautiful old-world restaurant was founded in 1948 by a Polish family. Since then it has served traditional Polish cuisine such as goulash and strogonoff to an appreciative public.
The borsch (beetroot soup) is excellent, as is the beef strogonoff. The dark wood paneling and patriotic displays of photographs and Polish flags could almost trick you into thinking you’re back in Europe, somewhere in the indeterminate mid-twentieth century. The waiters, dressed in white tuxedos and suitably brusque, don’t do much to dispel this ambiance.
Everything is prepared with fresh ingredients and they offer a large range of authentic Polish vodkas, as well as a flaming chocolate souffle that is the pride of the restaurant, and for very good reason: it’s monstrously delicious.
Adega Perola (Copacabana)
This perennial Portuguese establishment has been going for over half a century (it was founded in the late fifties and recently bought by a group of customers) and doesn’t seem to have changed much about its décor or crowd-pleasing formula in that time.
With a huge delicatessen counter that runs the length of the restaurant stocked with delicious Portuguese specialities such as morcella (Portuguese blood sausage), sardines, marinated garlic, olives, and octopus in vinaigrette, to name but a few, Adega Perola allows customers to choose from a dizzying array of options that are then cooked, fried or served fresh.
They also offer a large array of cachaças, wines, chopp and craft beer.
L’Atelier du Cuisinier (Centro)
Hidden away off a main street in Rio’s bustling Centro, David Jobert has carved out a name for himself as the purveyor of the most authentic French bistro in the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa.’ Open only for lunch, and with limited seating, it is strongly advised to book ahead to ensure a table.
Those who do won’t be disappointed, as the chef and his team offer a delicious set menu and a host of other options, using fresh ingredients and plenty of imagination to serve up delicious portions of duck, lamb sausage, artisan cheeses, poached fish and much more.
French food often comes with a hefty price tag but this restaurant is surprisingly reasonable, and Jobert himself is known to personally come to each table to ensure that his customers are enjoying their meal.
Belga Brasserie (Centro)
The Belga Brasserie, on the ground floor of the new Belga Hotel, also offers an authentic gastronomic experience in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.
Every day at 4PM the Brasserie offers a ‘Bapas’ happy of Belgian beer paired with Belgian tapas, as well as traditional waffles, Belgian chocolates, trademark thin ‘frites’ (chips) and many other typical delicacies.
This September 1st they will also be hosting a ‘moules – frites’ (mussels and chips) festival featuring the best of Belgian gastronomy with a Brazilian twist, courtesy of their resident Belgian chef, Alexandre Binard.
“I can definitely tell you that ViaSete on Rua Garcia d’Avila is my favorite. They have the best homemade pastas and great vegetarian options and they also do a really good gelato.”
Specializing in fresh seafood, healthy salads and grills, ViaSete also places an emphasis on recycled materials and sustainable produce. The menus are available in English and the friendly staff are always on hand to help make you feel at home, wherever that may be.
Correction: This article has been modified since originally published on Tuesday, August 21st, to replace Adega Perola for the the recently closed Mike’s Haus.