Italian immigration decades ago brought more to Brazil than just people; Italy’s world-renowned cuisine came too, much to everyone’s delight. The majority of the best Italian restaurants are in São Paulo yet Rio de Janeiro also has its fair share, serving up authentic Italian dishes in traditional, cozy restaurants. Here’s our pick of the best in Rio de Janeiro.
La Bocca, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Lapa | (c) La Bocca
Lapa has a reputation as party central, but in the middle of the boisterous street parties and heaving nightclubs there are a few quiet, upscale restaurants renowned for their delicious food and La Bocca Bar & Trattoria is one of them. The great service and pleasant environment serve to enhance the high-quality food on offer from creamy risottos and comforting pasta to tender meat and freshly-grilled seafood.
Italian cuisine at Pomodorino in Lagao | (c) Pomodorino
The picturesque views overlooking Lagoa Lake in the south zone of Rio provide the postcard-perfect setting for light, Italian cuisine and fine wine. Enjoy a mouth-watering dish of fresh pasta in the elegant dining area indoors or make the most of Rio’s balmy evenings surrounded by exotic plants and a clear sky in the restaurant’s garden. Save room for the well-praised desserts and prepare yourself by bringing cash; this establishment, as modern as it seems, does not accept card payments.
Quadrucci in Leblon is a upscale Italian restaurant | (c) Quadrucci
With a menu that changes with the seasons to bring more comforting cooking in the winter and lighter dishes in the summer, Quadrucci combines sublime cuisine with a contemporary environment and impeccable service. Classics such as grilled shrimp pasta and lamb risotto look just as good as they taste and the beverage menu offers a wonderful – if somewhat pricey – selection of both imported and national wines. Set in the heart of Leblon, Rio’s wealthiest and most upscale neighborhood, Quadrucci reflects the sophisticated and classy environment it’s surrounded by.
The traditional setting of Artigiano Ristorante | (c) Artigiano Ristorante
Artigiano Ristorante transports guests straight to the traditional restaurant venues in Italy with its peaceful environment, polished wooden floors and crisp, white tablecloths. The food is served fresh and straight from the heart; carefully prepared, homemade pasta is the star of the show and rounded off with creamy, rich sauces and quality Parmesan cheese. The friendly staff cater to every whim and effortlessly provide a pleasant evening for the guests. Take plenty of cash – this is another establishment that doesn’t accept cards.
La Trattoria salad wth real mozzarella | (c) La Trattoria
Located in the heart of Copacabana, La Trattoria is a fine Italian restaurant with a cozy atmosphere, quality food and reasonable prices. The restaurant caters for its international guests with menus in English as well as Portuguese, and the food options are varied to serve a wider audience including gluten-free pasta and a good selection of vegetarian options. The hearty portions and indulgent desserts make La Trattoria a firm favorite in Copacabana.
Seafood dish at Ristorante Pasta e Pallone | (c) Ristorante Pasta e Pallone
Located in the heart of Leme, which mirrors Copacabana’s beach-centric vibe but far more peacefully, Pasta e Pallone provides a calm and peaceful environment for gourmet Italian food accompanied by fine wine. With comforting pasta and thin crust pizzas, the restaurant provides a satisfying dinner at a reasonable price and it’s close location to the beach allows for a pleasant stroll along the shore post-meal.
The cozy environment of La Botticella | (c) La Botticella
The rustic, homely decor provides a lovely setting for a memorable dining experience. La Botticella is highly-praised for its well-seasoned, authentic dishes and the star of the menu totally depends on personal taste; arguably, everything on the menu stands out. It is not unusual to see the owners dining there too, a reassuring sign that the food is spot on. Although not a cheap venue, for the sublime environment, friendly staff and superb meals, it offers great value for money.