Hotel restaurants worldwide have something of a reputation for serving overpriced, uninspired fare, but that is about as far as it is possible to get from Rio’s hotel restaurant scene.
Many of Rio’s very best restaurants can be found within the confines of the city’s better hotels, and between them the restaurants of Copacabana Palace, Sofitel Rio and Fasano Rio share a list of awards that is as long as your arm.
Happily for those travelers whose budgets won’t stretch to a night at one of these super-expensive esatablishments, the restaurants welcome non-guests, although do be sure to dress up for the occasion as you will be mingling with Rio high society here. You should also be prepared to spend big bucks – dining out in Rio is an expensive business, and never more so than at these sophisticated establishments.
For a really special night out, book yourself a table at Cipriani (reservations are essential at all the top hotel restaurants), Copacabana Palace’s refined and romantic Italian restaurant. Madonna, Will Smith and the Obamas have all dined here in recent years, and the service is as impeccable as one would expect for a restaurant accustomed to welcoming A-listers from across the world.
Begin your dining experience with a Cipriani (essentially a Bellini – Champagne with peach juice) and take your pick from the Northern Italian classics that head chef Nicola Finamore lovingly assembles. Guests here are required to keep mobile phones switched off, which should give some idea of the restrained atmosphere that prevails here – if you are looking for a rowdy celebratory dinner, this is not the place to head for.
For Italian dishes with an emphasis on seafood, head for Fasano Al Mare, the formal restaurant at the Phillipe Starck-designed Fasano Rio hotel. As chic, elegant and contemporary as the hotel itself, Fasano Al Mare has welcomed such illustrious guests as Tom Cruise and Katie H0lmes, and had been showered with awards from local food and drink publications within just a few months of its opening in 2008.
Chef Luca Gozzani makes regular updates to the menu to make best use of seasonal ingredients, and delicacies such as mini-squid stuffed with herbs and breadcrumbs and serves with black olive gnocchi are among the sophisticated ante-pasti you can find here. Expensive by any standards, Fasano Al Mare does offer a lunchtime set menu where guests can enjoy three courses for under R$100.
For fine French food with a view that is every bit as delicious as the dishes, head to Sofitel Rio in Copacabana. This luxury hotel may lack the fame of Copacabana Palace and Fasano Rio, but the hotel restaurant Le Pre Catalan is among the most celebrated in the city. To sample the best of chef Roland Villard’s cuisine, order the taster menu, which costs around R$250 but will offer a culinary journey that is worth every centavo.