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Culinary Haven in Santa Teresa

The Blue Patio (Pátio Azul) at Aprazível.

Marina Herriges/Riotur

Dec.5, 2012

With stunning bay and town views, Aprazível, in Santa Teresa, has left its mark in Rio de Janeiro culinary and nightlife since opening in 1997. Named after the street its located on - and whose name is a slightly nostalgic term meaning "pleasant", Aprazível has seven dining areas and a cachaça bar - Botequim do Souza - serving over 100 labels from several Brazilian regions, some produced in the country's finest alambiques (cachaça distilleries).

Since opening in 1997, the restaurant has grown in structure and organization, with Castilho's two sons, Pedro and João Hermeto, joining in as partners - Hermeto, an accomplished musician, has created the restaurant's musical concept, which blends electronic sounds and authentic Brazilian rhythms.

Chef Ana Castilho started serving Brazilian culinary at home, in what today is called Primeiro Patio (First Patio) during a special event: Artes de Portas Abertas or Art with Open Doors, to an enthusiastic public who asked for more.

The restaurant has several pleasantly decorated areas with stunning views of Guanabara Bay. One of them is the Blue Patio at the foot of heritage-listed stone retaining wall for Rua Aprazível. The most intriguing space is Palafitas, two 18-foot-high rooms for six and 10 people, built of reforestation eucalyptus stilts and covered with a thatched roof. As in the Gazebo, floors are heated and the benches covered with furs on chilly nights.

Chef Castilho, whose early experiences in Brazilian culinary come from her Minas Gerais childhood, is renowned for her refined take on whosesome country foods. Pernil das Geraes, for example, is confited ham hocks (from free-range Minas Gerais pork) with a Seville orange peel sauce, served with rice, carrot and raisin farofa and caramelized pineapple with peppermint.

Bacalhau do Pai ("Father's Codfish"; Castilho's father is also honored in the name of the bar) is an original take on a fish abundantly served in Rio. Here, airy, salty angel cake is filled with codfish pieces, sun-dried tomato and black olives.

For dessert, try Brazilian treats such as carimbó, a Northern combination of Brazil nut ice cream and cupuaçu compote; the baião de dois (tapioca ice cream and açaí sauce); or maybe the over-the-top "Goiaba do Paraíso" (Heavenly Guava), goiabada made in a passion fruit and spice, served with goiabada ice cream and hot guava sauce with lime zest.

Reservations are recommended at Aprazível, particularly in the high season. The restaurant is highly sought after by groups hosting closed events. Instead of taking a taxi, you can use Gold Vips, an executive car service which partners up with the restaurant (55-21-3472-9677). Some cars might be promptly available at the end of your visit; pick-ups can be scheduled.

Rua Aprazível 62
Santa Teresa
Rio de Janeiro- RJ
Phone: 55-21-2508-9174

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