Telephone (21) 2227 1477
Located at the start of Ipanema’s busy Visconde de Pirajá, Via 44 has been serving up hearty plates of honest, Italian-inspired grub to hungry cariocas since 2009. The restaurant's quiet, intimate dining room is blessed with little in the way of décor, creating a feel far removed from the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood’s main artery outside, and while this may be billed as 'true Italian cuisine,' the kitchen offers a surprisingly large array of international and Brazilian dishes.
Traditional Italian staples like thin-crust pizza (R$15-33) and pastas (R$28.50-32) are comfortably nestled between the typically hearty Brazilian strogonoff de camarão (R$29) and a generous cut of picanha grelhada com ovo (R$29.50) in Via 44's menu. The stuffed pastas, like the Panzerotti Al Burro e Sálvia (ricotta-stuffed pasta, R$30), are made daily on the premises and the seafood is fresh and affordable, taking centre stage at the hands of chef Claudio Ximenes.
Straying away from the Italian classics, the plentiful lobster-like cavaquinhas grelhadas (R$59), were bursting with sweet, tender, white meat grilled to perfection, needing nothing but a tiny squeeze of lime. The inexpensive shellfish can be served with a plethora of sides, including the arroz de maçã e funghi (R$59), a mix between rice and risotto with apple and mushroom that provides a welcomed counter to the light seafood with a deep, earthy umami flavor without the heavier creaminess of the gnocchi al funghi porcine.
Popular with the lunch crowd, the small space fills up during the week thanks to the quick, old-school waiters and the almoço executivo’s mammoth portions. From rabada (oxtail, R$20.50) to grilled fish (R$25) they come complete with Brazilian or Italian sides and rounded off with a slice of traditional pudim de leite (and a highly useful doggy bag) for dessert.
On which note, for a place that's all about Italian-inspired Brazilian fare, Via's version of a traditional Austrian pastry is both as unexpected as it is delicious. The strudel de maçã (R$16), from the hand of the restaurant owner's aunt, comes with perfectly soft, sweet apples, fat raisins and a dash of cinnamon wrapped in an incredibly light layer of puff pastry, served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Italian, no. Delicious? Absolutely.