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Hidden in amongst the gleaming towers and corporate cut-and-thrust of Berrini, Vicolo Nostro is one of the few quality restaurants in the vicinity that you’ll find open come dinner time. Step through the five-metre-tall metal doors of this converted industrial bakery into a vast terracotta-coloured world with green creepers growing up the walls.
The air is filled with the ‘nice-to-meet-yous’ of the international corporate dining experience. Head left into a cosy candle-lit dining room or through to a brighter, busier dining room where deals are negotiated between mouthfuls.
Vicolo was one of thirty São Paulo restaurants to be awarded the Ospitalità Italiana seal of approval in 2011 for following the traditions of Italian cuisine – to the letter, that is, which includes a menu in Italian and staff that parlare the lingo – so our expectations are high.
After a beautiful couvert of six Italian breads with goat’s cheese and olives, we order cappelletti in brodo – pasta filled with veal and chicken in a broth – and chef Cristiano Panizza’s recommendation of congrio in crosta di granchio con riso nero – conger eel with a crab crust and black rice.
The cappelletti is a little over-salted, but the eel is perfectly cooked, albeit overpowered by the crab crust. To close the deal, we’re tempted by the lemon sorbet with vodka, but renegotiate for a white chocolate mousse with strawberry sauce – a blend of flavours that didn’t quite work here.
It’s a touch on the pricey side, but if you’re good for it, the charm and good food make this an excellent choice for toasting that million-dollar contract.