Brasil a Gosto, on a quiet tree lined street in São Paulo’s Jardins neighborhood, is one of those restaurants that teaches you as much as it feeds you. The restaurant was in fact founded after the chef Ana Luiza Trajano searched 47 different Brazilian cities across the country to complete an inventory of regional ingredients and recipes and then wrote a book, the same name as the restaurant, about it. Trajano takes many of those recipes, many of them usually found in dirt rooms shacks and market stalls, and presents modern interpretations in a contemporary dining room with high quality ingredients.
When I first sat down I was surprised that the chef came out to greet me even the restaurant was rather busy. Each day Trajano offers a different three-course executive lunch specials, as well as a local hot dish that originates in a particular region such as Minas Gerias or Espíritu Santo. I went with the executive menu of the day.
First came out a basket of mixed tuber chips (various bananas, yams, yucca) and fresh breads out of the oven that I’ll just assume are all traditional Brazilian recipes. Little dishes of Baru nut spread and a creamy cheese sauce flavored with parsley were sent out too. Next came skewers of grilled cheese curd (queijo coalho na chapa) drizzled in sugarcane syrup and a small dish of parsley pesto for dipping. So simple but it comes out looking so elegant. The main course consisted of slices of pork tenderloin with a deep red, smoky jaboticaba cherry sauce sided with a grilled banana and yam puree. Dessert was called a cocada, though it was unlike any cocada I have ever had. The baked, shredded coconut was served in a small bowl and a creamy custard like texture and and crunchy top like a crème brûlée. A more traditional crunchy cocada topped with lemon sorbet was served on the side. Every aspect of the meal was brilliant and tasted great.
I’m sad I didn’t have to dine here again on my latest trip to São Paulo. Trajano does amazing things with Brazilian ingredients. She makes a crust out of Baru nuts for Tilapia, the river fish Pirarucu is accented with lemongrass and ginger, and even goat appears with a creamy manioc sauce. The dégustation menu will have to wait. For now.
Brasil a Gosto feels like the rainforest with lots of natural light finding its way through the many plants that sit within (there’s several inner gardens including a vertical one) and surrounding the restaurant. Blown up images from the book of farmers, fishermen, and plants and woodcarvings add to this effect. It’s very much the tropical bistro I’ve always wanted to know.
Brasil a Gosto
70 Travessa da Rua Barão de Capanema, Jardins
São Paulo, Brazil
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.