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jul 18, 2017

The Brazilian restaurants among the world’s top eateries


Over the last few years, Brazil has been busy developing the finer side of its gastronomy scene and creating elite restaurants. Now, it seems, the hard work may have paid off: four restaurants have found their way into the list of the best places to eat in the entire world.

Influential magazine Restaurant has just released its rankings, where four Brazilian chefs gained places in the top 100 restaurants across the planet. France has had its pastries and cheeses for centuries, but Brazil is only just discovering the ingredients and techniques that make its gastronomy unique. Not content with just creating fine dining experiences, the four chefs are pushing boundaries when it comes to flavour, texture, ingredients and presentation.

Alex Atala’s restaurant D.O.M. placed 11th in the world in the 2016 Restaurant rankings, and remains within the top 20 despite falling by five places. But Atala is no longer the exception to the rule: the 2017 rankings meant he had three Brazilian companions in the top 100.

Rio de Janeiro restaurant Lasai, from chef Rafael Costa e Silva, came in 76th place. Lasai is closely followed by São Paulo restaurant Maní, in 81st position and headed by chef Helena Rizzo. The final restaurant in the top 100 is also Brazilian: another Rio-based creation, Olympe comes from the mind of chef Claude Troisgros.

Some chefs, like Atala, have employed the help of anthropologists to learn about native foods prior to Portuguese colonization. Others, meanwhile, are looking at the potential of ingredients that came across to Brazil along with African slaves, like okra. Additionally, Brazilian chefs awarded by Restaurant have taken traditional, regional cuisines from across Brazil and revamped them.

At the same time, inimitable ingredients are lending new life to tried-and-tested culinary concepts. Fake caviar can be made from okra seeds, vanilla flavouring can come from a wild Amazonian orchid, and ceviche can be made from exotic vegetables instead of fish. Others look to unpopular vegetables, like bertalha and Maria-Gondó leaves to add a new flavor.

Atala’s D.O.M. certainly majors on innovative uses of Brazil-specific ingredients, like Amazonian vegetables, fruits and herbs to create dishes like sea bass with yam, açaí and a spice from the Brazilian-Venezuelan border.

"We have many things we do not even know," he told audiences at the recent Madrid Fusión culinary festival.

Lasai set itself apart with its contemporary style and experimentation with ingredients and presentation. One such notable dish is its focaccia bone, filled with lightly seasoned tomatoes and accompanying salty tuna and pickles. Maní, meanwhile, takes a blend of influences to create concoctions like its duck in manioc root sauce.

Olympe’s focus on new takes on regional dishes also put it in the top 100. Chef Troisgros even breeds his own catitu pigs, whose flesh burns almost instantly, to create crispy and tender pork dish with tonka, bitter hearts of palm and a sweet, milky sauce.

A complete list of the restaurant rankings can be found on the Restaurant website. Here are the top Brazilian restaurants and where they places:

Created by chef Alex Atala, D.O.M. has been making waves for a couple of years already. It placed 16th in the world in this year’s rankings.
Address: R. Barão de Capanema, 549 - Jardins, São Paulo
Telephone: +55 11 3088-0761
Website: www.domrestaurante.com.br/

The result of chef Rafael Costa e Silva’s relentless experimenting, Lasai found itself in Restaurant’s list for the first time this year. It is 76th on the list, and looks set for more success in the near future.
Address: Rua Conde de Irajá, 191 - Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro
Telephone: +55 21 3449-1854
Website: www.lasai.com.br/

Helena Rizzo brought the spotlight to restaurant Maní. With its eclectic range of culinary influences and delicate balance of flavors, Maní was ranked 81st in this year’s guide.
Address: Rua Joaquim Antunes, 210 - Jardim Paulistano, São Paulo
Telephone: +55 11 3085-4148
Website: www.manimanioca.com.br/

Closing out this year’s top 100, chef François Troisgros’s meticulous attention to detail and revamped regional cuisine earned the Rio de Janeiro restaurant recognition.
Address: R. Custódio Serrão - Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro
Telephone: +55 21 2537-8582
Website: www.olympe.com.br/