Aprazivel is an institution in Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Teresa neighborhood. It’s a place so special, so unique, that you really cannot believe you’re able to experience it firsthand. The restaurant, located in the former home of owner Ana Castilho, is hidden from the twisty streets of Rio’s oldest neighborhood, but beckons your attention by a line of people and a simple sign graced with an angel.
Once entering and walking down the long flight of stairs, you’re immediately surrounded by a multi-tiered palace of wood, flora and fauna, which cascades down the mountainside. Each dining “platform”, some in the trees, some in the gardens, offers guests an unobstructed view of the city and sea, and out across the crumbling mansions once belonging to Rio’s first wealthy Portuguese immigrants.
The food at Aprazivel is renowned for its detail. Ms. Castilho is a chef herself and has traveled throughout the world and, at home, throughout the Amazon, to source her ingredients. She works with local purveyors for the best palm oil, fisherman for the fish and natives in the rainforest who turn-up with the most rich, chocolaty acai fruit. Every dish has a special element to it and a story as to why its on the menu. My absolute favorite dishes are the grilled palm hearts with herb oil infusion and the “Galinhada Caipira” – free-range chicken mixed with moist rice, homemade sausage, sautéed kale, surprise beans, fried plantain and red chili jam. But, anything from this menu will leave you bombarded with flavor and happiness.
Aprazivel is intimate with its burning candles, fragrant flowers and angels watching from every corner of the restaurant. But, the servers and the chefs are watching too, as you enjoyment is of the utmost importance to them. This is clear.