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Metrô bus Jardim Botânico
Bráz is tucked just off the high street in Jardim Botânico and welcomes you into a cavernous main hall with bright lights and what looks like an endless row of tables shrinking off into the distance. For such a big place, it fills easily and early, and without the option to reserve a table on the weekend, patience is a virtue and even the waiting area brims with activity by 9pm.
Start with a creamy chopp and the peerless Pão de Calabresa with its fluffy innards and the crunchiest, thickest crust that manages to blow away most of the pizzas on the menu. The choice is mind and stomach-boggling with forty varieties of pizza and calzone illogically spread across the pages.
Between six people, three full-sizers is the perfect way to experiment, as each can served meia-e-meia (a different topping per half) so a pizza democracy can be established. If a whole one of these landed in front of you it would be far too intimidating, so the perimeters of the restaurant are left as temporary storage while the business of eating is allowed to go on unencumbered.
Avoid the Capri, consisting of little more than a doughy base and slice after slice of goat's cheese (save one leaf of tarragon), and the lumps of fake-looking scrambled egg dotted around the top of the Carbonara don't make for an attractive slice on either the eyes or the tastebuds.
The Rio is supposedly to be the perfect 'homage to the city', but how aubergine, courgette and fresh tomato topping can conjure up the essence of the big, bad and beautiful city isn't entirely clear. Surely lashings of sausage, cheese-stuffed crust and a big fried egg slapped bang in the middle would be more appropriate. The Berinjela Á Moda offers a refreshing injection of vegetables and the Provençal is deeply garlicky, but the Funghi is not to be missed, with layers of fresh mushrooms taking the prize at a canter.
As a place to chew back a touch of Italian, Bráz has something wonderful about it. Truly cavernous and with strange, zen gardens in the bathrooms, it may have won awards, but the mainstay struggles to match the Pão de Calabresa starter. Which is ridiculous, really.
9 Apr 2013.