With a view of the city, Aprazivel is one of Rio de Janeiro’s finest restaurant.
Rio’s Santa Teresa neighbourhood is a bit like London’s weather. Expect the unexpected and you’ll be fine. Mainly for people not wanting to just stick to the beach and the main tourist attractions, there is a nice bohemian charm that the old mansions and boutiques in this quaint-village-in-the-mad-city provide.
Even though you may not want to trust walking up all of the neighbourhood’s streets alone after dark when the walking tours subside and tourists return to their hotels, what can be trusted is the reputation of Santa Teresa’s restaurants. And one of the gems nestled on the hilltop in one of the quieter steep winding streets of the same name, is Aprazivel.
The ambience of Rio
The restaurant has a fantastic setting. Its various seating areas across multiple levels take full advantage of the hillside and aim to provide great views of downtown Rio, Guanabara Bay and just the lush surrounding vegetation. We went during the carnival season and were seated in a nice corner area from where it was possible to hear the local procession far below on the streets with the distant drum beats making the mood very festive.
The restaurant’s aesthetic has been suitably crafted to give a rural atmospheric feel, ranging from thatched roofs, all wooden furniture and handcrafted placemats and decorations. The size and scale of the restaurant is big and the aim is clear, forget you are in a bustling city, soak in the charms of your surrounds and let Aprazivel the restaurant seduce you.
The service does its best to maintain that luxurious, relaxed feel. Though the wine list isn’t to the level that the restaurant aims to portray, the sommelier did his best to pick out the right wines for us based on menu choices or the mood at the table, at various occasions during the course of the evening. There is a good selection of Brazilian wines. The service does feel remarkably personal given the overall size and spread out the extent of seating.
We went in a large(ish) group for a celebration and therefore ended up trying a number of appetisers and entrees. In fact the restaurant clearly is a special occasion place both for Cariocas (people from Rio) and for visitors alike. Over the course of the evening we ended up making friends with a group of New Yorkers on the table next to ours, when they joined in our Happy Birthday song sung for our friend, especially when it was being rendered in Turkish and Hindi.
The appetisers constituted the best part of the dinner. The ceviche, the terrine de casa and the croquettes were all brilliant and the baked palm heart went really well with their basil and cashew pesto. The quintessential Brazilian paes de queijo were baked to perfection.
The main courses, on the other hand, left something to be desired all around. I was satisfied with my Tropical fish and my friend with his Galinhada caipira (Chicken risotto). But the feedback on the Octopus, Carioca rice and the Medalhau was consistent in the feeling of being underwhelmed. Though we did not try as many desserts since we brought our own celebratory cake, the fresh fruits based desserts all looked really tempting and the mango and banana-based desserts did not fail to impress. The Brazilian filter coffee at the end was sublime.
All said and done, the restaurant is a great choice for trying out traditional Brazilian fare in a beautiful and classy yet relaxed surrounding.
They can still enhance their mains menu to make the trek all the way up the hill feel one hundred percent worth it.
Do not expect a table without a reservation and to get there and back for dinner after dark, do what everyone else does, take a taxi or Uber.