There are some restaurants that take your breath away – both in food and in atmosphere. Finding them is rare and, when you do, they never escape you. One of these rare “gems” is located on a mountain slope in the charming neighborhood of Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This restaurant is the world-famous Aprazivel.
Winding through the hilly streets of Santa Teresa at night isn’t easy. Imagine the smallest streets in the Hollywood Hills, the ones where only one car can get by at a time. That’s what it’s like. But, as you wind up, and up, the view only gets better and better. If you’re lucky enough to come during sunset, you’ll see the fiery oranges and pinks running across the sky – spanning the city and out to the deep blue Guanabara Bay. Finally, at the tippy-top, you reach Aprazivel.
As you enter the “space” you instantly realize you’ve somehow ended-up in the dining room of Swiss Family Robinson. From the street level you walk down several stone stairs to the main “platform” in the treehouse-like restaurant where the host greets you. There are several gardens and dining spaces running down the slopes and built high in the trees with beautiful mahogany wood. It’s all so charming and beautiful.
At a recent dinner, I was seated near the bar – with views over the hill into nearby Botafogo. The waiter came over and greeted me, filling a glass with Brazilian sparking wine as a welcome gesture. Delicious. I was given a menu with the restaurant’s specials and their classics – all too good choose from. But, I did.
I dined on roasted hearts of palm with a homemade pesto – grilled in the stalk of the palm harvested from a sustainable farm. Homemade breads, including the Brazilian favorite “pão de queijo”, “secret beef” – a baked concoction of tender beef with local cheeses, roasted tilapia filet served with rice and vegetables and a delicious boneless chicken mixed into a soft rice with warm plantains. Overall, the meal was incredible.
Dessert brought the experience to a close – homemade ice creams from Amazonian fruit. I could’ve eaten the entire tub (if there were one) in one sitting. As I took my last bite and took one last look around, I felt somewhat sad. I wasn’t ready for it to end. But, there’s always next time. Aprazivel has been around for quite some time, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Don’t miss this restaurant when in Rio – it will be a highlight of your trip.