After dark, in happening Leblon, foodies come out to experience some of Rio de Janeiro’s best dining options. One at the top of that list, Zuka, has held court both domestically and internationally for over a decade – often referred to as Rio’s best restaurant. I had to see what the buzz was about, recently experiencing a fabulous dinner here.
Inside the minimalist-inspired, wood-paneled and glassy interior, tables are packed with visitors and locals – all clamoring to get a taste of the modern Brazilian cuisine. Upon arrival, my glass was filled with a local sparkling wine and I was offered an extensive wine list with varieties from South America, Europe and other parts of the world. I opted for a beautiful 2010 Malbec from Argentina.
The open kitchen plan is intriguing at Zuka, as a bar full of patrons can watch the chefs work their magic – churning out dishes like heirloom tomato salad, tuna ceviche, cod stuffed with parma ham served with roasted vegetables and bananas sautéed in molasses. Each dish is superb and you can tell love goes into every process.
The wait staff at Zuka is attentive – waiters consistently visited our table to refill water and wine. The small space feels intimate and diners almost become a part of the the process – which makes the culinary deliverables even more special when they arrive to your table. Zuka is a “must” for anyone in Rio.