Astrid y Gastón came in at #1 and D.O.M. at #2 at the initial edition of the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant List, even though D.O.M. ranked considerably higher on the World’s Best list a few months ago. Comparing those restaurants is difficult. Pujol was at #3 and Central at #4. In my opinion any of those four restaurants could be #1 on any given day. With the top ten there was little argument – some might say one restaurant should up or down a spot or two – but the rest of the list was where there were some oddities.
A few hours north of São Paulo in the hills outside the alpine like town of Campos do Jordão, some opf the most creative Brazilian fare is being served at an ultra exclusive lodge restaurant called Mina surrounded by reclaimed wood giant walls of glass in the middle of 700 acres of Atlantic rainforest at the hotel and spa Botanique.
A great Amazonian restaurant is near impossible to create. First off, sourcing ingredients with any regularity in the region is done with hands in prayer. Second, where do you put it? Ideally it would be near the source of those exotic fruits and fish, though the entire region is blanketed… Read More →
In terms of restaurants, no city on the South American continent, except for maybe Lima, has as much star power as São Paulo, Brazil’s sprawling inland city of 11 million inhabitants (20 million if you include the entire metropolitan area). New restaurants that opened in 2012 and others opening this year are giving reason to explore well beyond Alex Atala’s D.O.M. and Helena Rizzo’s Maní.
A meal at São Paulo’s Maní, #51 on San Pellegrino’s World’s best list in 2012, has become one of the most sought after restaurant experiences anywhere in Brazil, or South America for that matter. Model turned chef Helena Rizzo, and her Spanish husband Daniel Redondo, has been a driving force in contemporary Brazilian cuisine in ne since opening in 2006.
Last year after eating at Alex Atala’s D.O.M. in São Paulo I predicted that the restaurant, then #18 on San Pellegrino’s World’s Best List, would make the Top 5 in 2011. I was close. It jumped up 11 spots to #7. Thus far, no other restaurant in South America has come close to the level of D.O.M. Atala is sourcing many rare ingredients direct from farmers and artisanal vendors throughout Brazil, including the Amazon, and presenting them in a modern form. Atala isn’t focusing on foraging like at Noma or molecular gastronomy like at El Bulli. Rather he is showcasing some of the most vibrant, exciting, and unknown ingredients in a new way. Two other Brazilian restaurants, Mani (#74) and Fasano (#59), both which focus on Brazilian ingredients, also made the list.
A giant black door that must be at least 15 feet high separates the outside world from the wild jungle inside. This is D.O.M., Brazilian chef Alex Atala’s signature restaurant and is included on San Pellegrino’s list of the World’s Top 50 restaurants. Many would say it belongs in the top ten. Atala, a one time DJ, was trained in classical French cuisine, though he no longer serves foie gras and truffles on his menu. He serves strictly Brazilian food, the flavors of his youth, though he has reinvented them masterfully.