Telephone (21) 2267 9282
Metrô General Osório
Opening a restaurant with the name Vieira Souto brings with it certain responsibilities. The Office of Fair Trading would have you up before the judge if it did not reflect all that Ipanema’s most exclusive, beach-front road stood for; informal elegance and unpretentious expense. Similarly, opening an Italian in a city not short of its fair share of pasta masters is a bold move, but Vieira Souto’s air is pitch perfect and its dishes help to set it apart.
Located in one of the few remaining detached houses on the water front, Vieira Souto is the product of a reassuringly experienced meeting of minds including former Quadrifoglio chef Jessé Valentim, sommelier João de Souza once of Terzetto, Copacabana Palace’s ex-dessert wizard Simone Domingos and maitre’d Cadu Costa and André Vasconcelos. They may not have maximised the oceanfront setting (only the upstairs room for thirty, privately hired out for tasting sessions has a seaview), but there are more important things to occupy the attention.
Just four tables are to be found at the front, with the main dining hall, despite the huge ceiling lamps dangling overhead, revealing itself as bright, spacious and high ceiling-d. To the rear the kitchen can be ogled in full swing, calmly turning out a fixed lunch menu and varied, a la carte dinners.
The poached egg and asparagus with truffle butter - satisfying sheets of Grana Padano laid over the top (R$43) - makes for an excellent starting point, and a spoon is considerately provided to scoop out the rich broth left in the bottom of the bowl; no standing on ceremony here. The lightness of the octopus carpaccio (R$39) was tempered with some nice robust basil, and the couvert's basket of breads (R$18) baked on the premises is accompanied by a sublime tapanade.
Freshly made pastas and risottos make up the bulk of the dinner menu, with rare constructions such as Trofi (thin, light and served with squid and clams, a cross of rich, salty botarga perched on top) and Fagottini filled with everything from pear and spices to squid and spinach. Equally adventurous are the risottos - Parma ham, melon and marscapone is an intimidating combination on any menu.
The succulent, slow-cooked lamb with brazil nut risotto is an inspired combination, and the Brazilian twists carry over into the seafood; see the meaty cavaquinha in Prosecco sauce and pear-filled ravioli (R$92) and namorado fish (R$75) with lentils or baked bacalhau (R$89).
The prices may be on the high side, but the set-menu lunch (R$68) is decent value for money, including a cover, starter, main and dessert. Opening with a wide choice that includes green salads, carpaccios and a lagostine consomé with shrimp, mains include standards like penne with ragu, lasagne and risotto, three beef and three fish dishes.
Tiramisu, a fine sponge filled with dried fruits and thick cream and a crumbly biscuit-filled home made vanilla ice cream round off what should become something of an Italian revelation in Ipanema. Perched in front of the Atlantic the prices were always going to be high, but the team behind it have the nouse to back it up.