In recent years, no other restaurant opening has caused such a fuss among the city’s dining elite as Girarrosto, unless you count the moment when the upmarket Fasano decamped from its original location on Rua Haddock Lobo and moved in on the ground floor of the eponymous hotel. The interest that Girarrosto’s arrival stirred up is not altogether surprising, given the jaw-dropping R$10 million that was spent on it.
To add to the hubbub, the restaurant has set up shop in the former home of an old paulistano favourite, Pandoro, a bar that provided the backdrop to many a steamy affair among the city’s affluent ladies and gents, fuelled by the bar’s creamy, deep-fried pastéis and its famous Caju Amigo cashew cocktail (R$19).
After Girarrosto’s opening in February 2012, the euphoria was slowly dampened by disappointing reviews, which failed to find favour even in the meats being roasted on the girarrosto, the classic Italian rotisserie grill and inspiration for the restaurant’s name.
But when everything seemed to be headed in a downhill direction, the oh-so-Italian Salvatore Loi saved the day. Possibly the most talented Italian chef in São Paulo, Loi spent the last 13 years at the forefront of the Fasano before his move to Girarrosto. And it’s made all the difference.
Loi takes perfection to extremes. You’ll understand what we mean when you try the bigoli (thick strands of pasta, shaped using a special machine) with duck and juniper sauce (R$54). One bite and you’ll realise that you’re eating the same spectacular pasta you’d eat at the Fasano, but for less. It’s worth noting that as well as his cookery, Loi also brought part of the Fasano’s brigade of waiters with him.
In spite of the logistical headaches that come with Girarrosto’s size – it can feed 270 customers at any one time – the restaurant has already settled into a nice, steady rhythm. Dishes arrive at just the right temperature, and waiters and sommeliers circulate the space attentively.
Bread lovers shouldn’t miss out on the naturally leavened mini Italian breads which come with the couvert, or can be bought as an edible souvenir from the restaurant’s adjacent bakery, JellyBread.
For those who remember the Pandoro glory days, take a trip down memory lane with a Caju Amigo in the restaurant’s bar, which still bears the original name, and some of its spirit. The new good ol’ times are back.