In a city in which good food often comes with all the trimmings and a little bit more, Sal Gastronomia aims at a pared down, slightly funky luxury. It has swept away not only the fussiness and frills, but the high prices too.
Occasionally, its bid for originality seems to be trying a tad too hard: from the outside, the black tar-coated façade looks more like the entrance to a deviant dungeon than a fine dining experience. Venture round the back, though, and it all clicks into place: more swathes of black dominate the walls of the courtyard, a space that the restaurant shares with cutting edge Galeria Vermelho. Vast sheets of glass looking into the gallery provide a visual feast to patrons seated outside.
Inside, the narrow space would be claustrophobic were it not for the bustle of the kitchen – seen behind a glass wall – and its immaculately dressed chefs, headed up by the shaved-head and heavily-tattoed Henrique Fogaça.
The gnocchi were excellent: melt-in-the-mouth inside with a rich, dense tomato and lamb sauce. Quinoa spaghetti was surprisingly light and unusual while the cupim – a cheap cut from the hump of the zebu cow, which can be tough – was served semi-shredded and wholly delicious. To finish, we shared a thin sliced green apple with cardamom custard, which was tart and slightly spicy. Easy, good eating, right down to the wine menu which, with its simple sauvignon blancs, is easy on the pocket too.