Tag Archives: Sao Paulo

Delcious Pizza in São Paulo: Speranza

brazilSão Paulo is a mecca of pizza. In our relatively short stay in São Paulo we tried to sample as much pizza as possible, and we definitely found some of the most consistently good pizza outside of Italy. Many will vouch that the pizza in São Paulo is even BETTER than that found in Italy. One of our friends particularly recommended Speranza (R. 13 de Maio, 1004, São Paulo), a family restaurant that has been churning out pizzas since 1958. Speranza is quieter and less of a production than Braz, with which it vies for favorite pizza in the city. The menu at Speranza consists of pizzas and other Italian dishes including meats and pastas, as well as a tempting burrata appetizer.

SperanzaPizzaThere is a section of the menu dedicated to  authentic Neapolitan pizza, which for about 40R apiece (about $20) was a pretty good deal. It is worth noting that this restaurant was the first in Latin America to receive recognition from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. We were highly recommended to get the classic margherita pizza, which was 56R for a large, and an extra 3R for buffalo mozzarella, which we felt was well worth the slight added expense. The pizza was fabulous. We loved the dense crust, the light sauce, and the generous hand with the buffalo mozzarella. While it may not have the fancy ambiance of Braz, we think we liked this little spot better.SperanzaInterior

We were completely stuffed from the pizza and bread, though we have to mention the restaurant’s very well-photographed menu of desserts. If you go there you will see what we mean. There was lemon tart and tiramisu, as well as something we’d never seen on a pizzeria menu before: Pastiera (Neapolitan Easter pie). This was definitely one of our top pizzas in Brazil, and we recommend Speranza to everyone looking for legit pizza in Sampa.

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Bella Paulista, something for everyone in São Paulo

Bella Paulista Casa de Pães
R. Haddock Lobo 354
São Paulo – SP 01414-000

brazilNo matter what kind of food you a craving, from cake to Italian, to health food to hearty traditional Brazilian fare, chances are 24-hour Bella Paulista in the Jardins neighborhood of São Paulo has it. The full name of the restaurant is Bella Paulista Casa de Pães, (House of Bread), but that really doesn’t tell the whole story. Bella Paulista is kind of a riff on a kilo restaurant – where you pay by how much your food weighs – but a little more high tech. You are given a plastic card, and everything you order – whether through a waiter or at a counter – is added to the card. At the end of the meal, you bring your card to the cashier near the exit when you are done and they then add up the final total. Pretty spiffy.

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There is also R$ 29.95 for the all-you-can eat (as opposed to kilo) lunch buffet – which seemed to mainly consist of cold cuts, yogurt, breads and fruit, so we skipped, though it would be excellent for the healthy eaters around (not us, I guess). There was also more of sit down lunch counter for typical Brazilian fare of hot sandwiches and comidinhas. On the menu there were pages and pages of options, including diverse juice drinks, omelettes, pasta, waffles, Gourmet sandwiches such as mozzarella and arugula (all about $R 25+), Traditional sandwiches like turkey, cheese or tuna (around R$ 15). Of course, there is also a huge assortment of bread, like the massive pao de queijo we enjoyed above. We enjoyed sandwiches and fresh squeezed juices for a pretty good deal in this posh area of Sampa.

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However, our favorite part of Bella Paulista was the dessert counter. Actually just calling it a counter is a misnomer – it actually formed a big circle, with an attendant inside the middle of the counter, waiting to weight your purchase. You could buy whole round cakes in a myriad of flavors, simpler strawberry or chocolate loaf cakes, as well as cookies, cakes and pies by the slice (you paid for these by weight). We went for the passion fruit cheesecake (below), which we found through experience is one of the most popular and consistently delicious Brazilian desserts. M was also happy to encounter a wide variety of filled doughnuts, not too common of a sight in Brazil. Bella Paulista was certainly one of the more impressive kilo restaurants we encountered in Brazil, and there certainly was something for everyone!

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A Taste of Chile in Brazil: El Guatón

chileEl Guatón
Rua Artur de Azevedo, 906
Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil

El Guatón was our first foray into Chilean food, and we had to go all the way to Brazil to do it! One of the world’s great foodie cities, São Paulo is known for its range of restaurants. We were excited (but not really surprised) to find a Chilean restaurant among its ranks of eateries.  We heard good things about El Guatón, and looking at their menu online we noticed some similarities with both Peruvian and Argentine restaurants that we had visited before. We were on board!

Dinner at El Guaton in Sao Paulo

Dinner at El Guatón in São Paulo

El Guatón is cute and cozy with red-tablecloths, and a little patio out front. Unfortunately, we arrived on a chilly day, so everyone chose to stay warm inside. We got a small table in the back, which – at the risk of stereotyping Brazilian restaurants – means you will never be served. But the service was prompt and courteous, and even more surprising for Brazil, there was a basket of food placed on our table for zero charge. In the land of couverts, this was a nice change! El Guatón also features an extensive wine list,featuring many Chilean varieties. There is even a bottle of the house red put on the table, and most people do seem to take advantage of it.

Chilean Empanada

Chilean Empanada

One of the most popular items on the menu, according to reviews, are the empanadas (in Spanish) or empadas (in Portuguese), terms basically referring to the same sort of delicious carb filled with meat or cheese. The cost was a reasonable at R$6 for baked and R$8.50 for fried. We ordered a baked cheese, and fried shrimp. The baked empanada was slightly smaller and a had a lighter taste, perhaps it would be good for the “health-conscious” empanada lover (if such a person exists). The fried variety was seemingly twice as big and came out piping hot, with a tender crust and nice oozy cheese. They definitely made both of these varieties to order – and it showed. YUM!

El Guaton Ceviche

El Guatón Ceviche

Beyond empanadas there were a variety of meat and seafood dishes including picanha, fried fish, ceviche and humitas (Chilean tamales). Matt is a major fan of ceviche, and after our successful ceviche meal in Rio at Cevicheria Carioca (review forthcoming!), he wanted another hit. The ceviche at El Guatón was only R$53 for fish ceviche for two. It is plenty large enough for two people, and in many ways simpler and subtler than many of the Peruvian ceviches with which he, and many readers, may be more familiar. This ceviche was simple: just white fish, lime juice, diced white onions, and cilantro – a combination that resulted in a rather tame tiger milk, but still mixed and effectively presented all the great flavors.

We were also surprised to find lúcuma on the menu. A fruit native to mountain valleys in the Andes, Matt grew to love its sweet potato / maple / nutty flavor while living in Peru.  El Guatón featured a lúcuma cake (R$13), which was very tasty, but essentially just a puff-ball of whipped cream on a very thin crust. It needed a little more substance (and definitely a little more lúcuma).

We had a great meal at El Guatón and we wish there were more Chilean places around. We love it almost as much as Peruvian food! Maybe someday we will be back, until then we’ll have to scour for another Chilean eatery. Is there a Chilean restaurant in your neck of the woods?

Lucuma Cake

Lúcuma Cake

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Eating Cheap and Well in Jardim América, São Paulo

brazilThe area southwest of Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, bordered on the west by Avenida Rebouças and on the east by Avenida Nove de Julho, encompassing the neighborhoods of Jardim América and Cerqueira César, is one of the swankiest and most upscale neighborhoods in the Americas. It is home to São Paulo’s finest restaurants – i.e., some of the finest restaurants in the hemisphere – and thus is a must for any foodie. Yet this high concentration of culinary awesomeness comes with an annoying tradeoff: eating there can be exorbitantly expensive. But, determined eaters as we are, we did some exploring and came up with a tasty, cheap snack itinerary for those of you wanting to explore the area without breaking your wallet.

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Street art in Jardim America

Start out at Casa Bauducco (Alameda Lorena, 1682), a well-known Italian bakery famous for their Panettone. Sample the wide variety of cookies and pastries available, but do yourself a favor and get a fresh slice of chocottone (chocolate panettone, R$5.80), heated with cinnamon and sugar on top. The recipe supposedly takes over 40 hours to make, and you can taste every bit of effort in that chocottone.

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Casa Bauducco

A few blocks away, continue with the Italian trend and cool off your mouth with a few scoops of the finest gelato in Brazil at  Bacio di Latte (Rua Bela Cintra, 1829). Get a grande size for R$12, and up to three flavors. We recommend the maracujá (passionfruit) and negrissimo (super dark chocolate) flavors, especially in combination. Be sure to sit on one of the converted milk jugs as seats.

If you need a little relaxation time, take a load off in the excellent book selection and beanbag chairs at the famous Livraria da Vila (Alameda Lorena, 1731), where you can admire the famous bookshelf-doors while sipping a coffee or cappuccino at their cafe and wondering why anyone would pay R$ 10 to valet a car at a bookstore.

Still hungry? Walk south to the unassuming Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo (Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408), serving up the best cheese bread in the city, if not the country. If you have time, wait for a fresh batch to come out: you will get the most for your R$4.50, which is worth it [full review here].

Having had your fill of cheese bread,finish up your explorations by deciding what other flavors could entice you at Folie (Cristiano Viana, 295), purveyor of excellent French macarons. Choose from Brazilian-inspired flavors, including brigadeiro and beijinho; or go with something even more inventive, such as drink-themed macarons with flavors like Gin & Tonic and Green Tea.

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The best gelato in São Paulo: Bacio di Latte

Bacio di Latte
(4 Locations) We visited: Rua Bela Cintra 1829
São Paulo, Brazil

In addition to having the best pizza in Brasil, due to the proliferation of Italian influence in São Paulo, there is also some of the best gelato in Brasil. Bacio di Latte (“Milk Kiss” in Italian) has been receiving accolades for their gelato, so we had to visit an outpost while we were in São Paulo. We visited the location in Jardim America, definitely the “Upper East Side” of São Paulo. Everything is expensive and beautiful – including the food. Bacio di Latte follows the neighborhood trend, with a brand new, big, flashy store, with a nice outdoor cafe area. To order, you pay at the cashier first (like at Giolitti), and then make your way over to the luminous gelato counter to select your flavors. Obviously, everyone is there for the gelato, but they also have some baked goods and coffee drinks.

BaciodiLatteInterior

Bacio di Latte Interior

Bacio di Latte had all the telltale signs of good gelato: it is made in-house (you can barely get a peek of people making gelato in the kitchen), no neon colors, and no artificially air-whipped peaks. We were also excited to see that there were no less than five flavors of chocolate on offer. To order you select your size: it is R$ 8 for a small (up to 2 flavors) R$ 10 for a medium (up to 3 flavors) and R$ 12 for a large (up to 3). The flavor selection is overwhelming, but fortunately you can ask for small samples of any flavor including Zabaglione, Doce de Leite, Guava, and Pistachio, among others. You may have to brush up on your Italian to interpret some of the flavors (the complete list is online).

Bacio di Latte

Bacio di Latte Milk Cream, Dark Chocolate and Passion Fruit

From our time in Italy consuming as much gelato as humanly possible, we settled on the following flavor combination that we felt gave us maximum gelato enjoyment: a dark chocolate variety, a fruit variety, and something with a cream or vanilla base for contrast. We went with this strategy and got the dark, dark chocolate Nerissimo, passion-fruit and the Bacio di Latte milk cream with Nutella chunks. Every flavor was outstanding and the gelato’s texture was excellent. The dark chocolate was really dark chocolate – which we love. The “Bacio di Latte” ice cream flavor also reminded us of the “Cereal Milk” flavor from Momofuku Milk Bar that really tastes like cereal! The passion fruit flavor has more of a sorbet texture, but the favor was amazing. As we sat on our milk pails that doubled as counter stools, we couldn’t believe we devoured our gelato so quickly (though that always seems to happen). It may not have been quite as good as Italy, but it was pretty darn close, and we know we would be visiting Bacio di Latte frequently if we lived in São Paulo.

Bacio di Latte Chocolate Flavors

The many Bacio di Latte Chocolate Flavors

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São Paulo vs. Buenos Aires in Pictures

Our time in Salvador is drawing to a close, as is our time in Brazil, if you can believe it (we can’t)! We will be spending our last week in Brazil in São Paulo. So we thought it was particularly appropriate that we came across the blog Sampa versus Buenos as we prepare to leave for São Paulo. Taking a cue from the popular blog (and now book) Paris vs. NYC, the blog humorously compares the differences between the foods, culture, and icons of South American rival cities Buenos Aires and São Paulo (aka Sampa) in graphic form. Our favorite picture so far is that of the rival sweet treats, the Brazilian brigadeiro and the Argentine alfajor. We love both!

BrigadeirovsAlfajor

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Texan BBQ in São Paulo

brazilWe have often said that one of the things we miss most when we are in Brazil is American Barbecue.  However, we have just learned about an American BBQ joint in São Paulo, BOS Barbecue (Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 559, Itaim Bibi, São Paulo). BOS BBQ is run by a team of Texans and Brazilians, and there is even reported to have the first American BBQ pit in all of meat-obsessed Brazil. BOS specializes in ribs and pulled pork and has several varieties of BBQ sauce to choose from (Espresso, Honey and Classic). First macarons and now BBQ – we could definitely live in São Paulo! Here is a complete review of BOS BBQ in Portuguese.

BOS BBQ

The Interior of BOS BBQ

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Lunar New Year in Liberdade, São Paulo

JapanbrazilToday is Lunar New Year – the welcoming the year of the snake. Fact of the day: Brazil has a substantial East Asian population, including the largest population of Japanese-descended persons outside Japan. São Paulo in particular is a major Japanese-Brazilian (nikkei) center, with Japanese cultural heritage on full display in São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood (which means “freedom” in Portuguese). Though originally settled by the Japanese, today the area is also home to many recent Chinese and Korean immigrants. Due to this, Liberdade is a great place to experience Lunar new year!  In 2011, 200,000 people attended new years celebrations in Liberdade alone.

LiberdadeNewYear

Chinese New Year Celebration in Liberdade, 2008 by Bianca Bueno

Liberdade is a very cool place, marked by its distinctive red lamp posts and a red Japanese gate (torii) at the entrance to the main street. We visited Liberdade in 2012, right after new year, but the place was still hopping. The neighborhood is also famous for its weekend street fairs, which are full of food, and bring out Paulistanos from all areas of the city. On any day of the week you can get some of the best yakisoba , bubble tea and gyoza in Liberdade. In many other Brazilian cities, Japanese food is quite expensive, but Paulistanos have the pick of any range of restaurants. There is even a dedicated Sake shop!

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Streets in Liberdade, Sao Paulo by Márcio Cabral de Moura

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The Mixed Martial Arts Açai Shop in a Gas Station: Posto do Açaí

Posto do Açaí
R. Vergueiro, 1694 (R. Estela)
São Paulo, SP 04102-000

Only in Brazil, right? While we previously rated our favorite açaí spots in Salvador, açaí bowls are extremely popular all across Brazil. São Paulo, of course, is no exception, and as usual we were excited to find a relatively crowded local açaí watering hole only a block from where we were staying in Sampa. Normally, we would usually give little credence to a restaurant in a gas station – technically sandwiched in between two gas stations – but that is exactly where we found Posto do Açaí.  Our first time through was by accident – just stopping under their roof to get out of the all-too-typical Sampa drizzle – and we were initially baffled by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu paraphernalia on the walls. Turns out it’s a chain, and they sponsor a series of Brazilian martial arts groups. But, even better for us, we found Posto do Açaí to be surprisingly decent açaí in the heart of São Paulo.

The menu, similar to most açaí joints, contains no real surprises: açaí na tigela with various toppings; juices; and juice milkshakes (batidas). However, points to the Posto for offering an interesting twist, presumably descended from São Paulo’s rich history of Italian immigration: a wide variety of Italian flavor syrups to add to any açaí bowl or drink (for a surcharge of R$2). We sampled the Sicilian orange and lime beaten into a bowl, topped with granola, and felt it was on par with some of our favorite places in Salvador, especially given the extra exotic fruit. We also sampled one of their range of Italian sodas – not bad for a gas station joint!

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São Paulo: 1900 Pizzeria

1900 Pizzeria
Rua Estado Israel, 240
São Paulo, 04022-002, Brazil

São Paulo is famed for its pizzerias, a fact of which Paulistanos are very proud. The city’s strong pizza heritage is thanks to waves of Italian immigrants that call São Paulo home. There are pizzerias of all stripes in Sampa, from utterly elegant to tiny one-woman operations. We were completely spoiled for choice in São Paulo and didn’t quite know where to start, so we were completely grateful when our hosts in São Paulo, Marciel and Angela, suggested we try 1900 Pizzeria.

1900 Pizzeria, which has several locations around Sampa, is an upscale establishment specializing in artisan Neapolitan pies. The name of 1900 Pizzeria comes from the fact that some iteration of the Pizzeria has been open since the year 1900. The recipe is also reportedly unchanged since that time. The restaurant itself was lively and bustling when we entered at the early, un-Brazilian time of 7 PM, and the partially open kitchen was working full-tilt. We could see pizza ovens burning, which was naturally a good sign.

The menu was divided into “Traditional (Tradicionais)” and “Specialty (Especias)” varieties of pizza – with the specialty pizzas having slightly more adventurous combinations like bacalhau and dried beef (and slightly higher price points). Pizzas came in individual, medium and large sizes, and the prices for a large pizza ranged from 47 to 62 reais (about 25-35 dollars). Across 2 large pizzas we sampled 4 varieties (1/2 of a pie each). First up was the endive and Margherita pizza. We had never tried endive on a pizza before, but the slightly spicy endive made for a very delicious and fresh pizza. The classic Margherita was lovely, with a perfect distribution of tomatoes, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella (see below). Our second pizza (which we tried with a whole wheat crust) was ½ four cheese and ½ arugula. The winner of this pie was the 4 cheese, which included the delicious Brazilian staple Catupiry along with gorgonzola, mozzarella and provolone. We slightly preferred the whole wheat crust, since it added a little more substance to the pizza. For dessert there were also several sweet pizzas, with nutella, strawberries, etc, apparently an exceedingly popular option in São Paulo pizzerias.

Though it was more than we are used to paying for pizza, we felt the added cost was worth it. The pizzas at Pizzeria 1900 were excellent, and we are happy that we got to experience a slice of São Paulo pizza culture with our friends. We only wish we could have more time in Sao Paulo to try some more pizza spots.

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São Paulo: Esfihas at Jaber

Jaber
Rua Domingos Morais, 86 – Vila Mariana
Sao Paulo, 04010-000, Brazil

São Paulo, with its cosmopolitan populace, is home to a large middle-Eastern population – especially Lebanese residents. This of course means delicious Lebanese food, one of our favorite varieties. Some Lebanese-inherited dishes have become popular all across Brazil – including kibbe – ground beef and cracked wheat fritters and the esfiha – an open faced pastry with either sweet or savory toppings. There are Middle Eastern restaurants on almost every corner of Sampa, so were definitely spoiled for choice (much as we were for Pizzas, as we will write about shortly). Right around the corner from our friends’ place was a Lebanese takeout restaurant that racked up accolades from Veja magazine and the like for awesome Lebanese treats. The menu at Jaber had both individual dishes, hot small snacks (salgados), and huge-family-style platters, they seemed to be doing very rapid turn over on large take-out plates for hungry families.

kibbe and esfiha

Of course we were pleased to see both kibbe and esfiha on offer at Jaber, both of which are pictured above. We sampled 3 types of esfihas, Za’atar, Cheese and Endive. The Za’atar esfiha really impressed us – the topping on the pastry crust was nothing but a solid layer of spice – Za’tar is a spice mix of thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame and salt – and the flavor of the esfiha was nothing short of explosive. Also on the menu were varieties of Esfiha that are “closed”, kind of a Brazilian/Lebanese take on Stromboli, with the pastry folded over the filling. Sao Paulo made us esfiha addicts! One thing about Brazil – they definitely have a lock on the pocket-sized savory pastry – who knew such myriad wonders even existed?

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The Best Pão de Queijo in São Paulo: Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo

Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo
Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408
São Paulo, 01414-002, Brazil

If, like us, you are cheese-and-carb lover, then pão de queijo may be one of the world’s most perfect foods. We’re getting pretty good at making it in the ETW Kitchen, despite some poor trial runs at the beginning. But now in Brazil, we were looking forward to sampling the many varieties of the Brazilian snack. Sadly, we’ve found Bahia quite lacking in pães, originally a speciality from the state of Minas Gerais. We encountered pães a few times in Salvador, at little snack counters mostly, and sampled a particularly foul version at a chain dedicated to Pao de Queijo (which we shall not name). Feeling a little disheartened by our pão de queijo experience in Salavdor, we were looing forward to getting to São Paulo to see if the pickings were any better.

What little flavor explosions lie undiscovered inside that basket?

And there, like a shining beacon a few blocks down from Avenida Paulista, Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo came to our rescue. Admittedly, our encounter was not accidental: PQHL was recommended to us very highly as some of the best pães in São Paulo, a city already famous for its vast and varied food. The storefront – like any good pão de queijo shop worth its weight in cheesy bread – is just a small walk-up counter, with freshly-made pães kept in a covered wicker basket. Fun for us, as this lent an air of mystery to the proceedings. Right there in front of us, but what did they look like? At R$4 each – a little pricey – how big were they? How many should we order? Of course, we could have saved ourself the trouble but just asking the friendly cashier, but boy if that does take all the fun out of it. Finally, 4 pães, 2 apiece. Decision made. And a brigadeiro – a truffle-like chocolate and caramel dessert covered in chocolate sprinkles – for dessert.

Conclusion? Absolutely worth the special trip. Since the lone bench at Haddock Lobo was occupied, we enjoyed our pães al fresco. They were astoundingly large, much bigger than the typical mini specimens were have encoutnered in the USA and Brazil. And despite our after-lunch arrival, they were still piping hot and fresh. Overall, easily some of the best pães we had ever had – if not the best – they were completely crispy on the outside and cheesy on the inside, with a great cheese flavor that managed to complement, as opposed to fight with or overpower, the bread. All in all, ETW heartily recommends Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo for great pão de queijo in Sampa!

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