Telephone (21) 2221 9439
Just off the main square of Largo do Guimarães, Santa Teresa's Cafecito has long been a dependable pit stop for those needing respite from pounding the cobbled hillside of the bohemian neighbourhood. Since early 2013, up a further set of steps from the original's coffee and sandwich-peddling terrace, Rústico has been burning brightly thanks to a busy wood-fired pizza oven, a menu chock-full of hearty offerings and a tree-covered outdoor dining experience that, as long as the weather holds, is as good as it gets on the hill.
Attentive, well-informed waiters are a welcome start, espousing the quality of the chopp de garrafa beer that hails from the Serra Carioca and is, as suggested, a fresh and fruity break from the Brahma norm. Snacky petisco dishes include a spicily marinated seafood and new potato combo or try a slab of warm and gooey brie smothered in pineapple chutney and almond flakes only slightly let down by the lack of French punch to the cheese in question. The grilled pineapple and brie salad makes for a lighter alternative, though, and two hefty slices of thick and crispy house bruschetta are a garlicky, tomato-laden delight.
The menu throws up dilemmas mainly due to the unusual combinations that will tempt the more adventurous. A soapstone pot crammed full of saffron rice and chicken best describes the galinhada (R$38), the dish's rusticity underlined by the slivers of lurking bone making it best masticated with caution. Slices of wild boar in rich gravy with a whole, baked apple, meanwhile, takes some beating as a winter warmer, with buttery slices of bruchetta and almonds again scattered liberally (R$55), but dourado fish, beef ribs and a vegetarian moqueca make for a wide appeal in a short list of main options.
Rather more conservative are the choices of pizza, rarely varying from traditional favourites, but with the ever-excellent Terezopolis beer on tap (R$6-$10) as well as a regular guest ale, artisanal cachaças and cocktails aplenty, and coupled with an original setting, there's more than enough on offer to satisfy demanding tastes.