Adding some welcome buzz to the hushed environs of Rua Melo Alves – long the dull neighbour of the design-and-dining catwalk Rua Oscar Freire – is a small rash of new restaurants.
The newest kid on this Jardins block, hot on the heels of the buzzy bistro Le Jazz Brasserie, is Domenico, an upmarket eatery with Italy in its DNA. Giving the restaurant its name is Sicilian owner, Domenico Masi. It may be stating the obvious, but authenticity is a given if any restaurant is to truly fly. And in a city like São Paulo, where all sorts gets served up in the name of Italian cuisine, it’s a delight to see Domenico sticking to the rule book, with pastas and risottos all served al dente, and tomato sauces subtly sweet rather than acidic, thanks to the San Marzano tomatoes used.
We visited for Sunday lunch, and so did plenty of other people, which meant an hour-long wait at the bar, made all the easier by a portion of piping hot, crispy arancini – beef and mozzarella saffron risotto balls – teamed with an Orange Dream (Campari and orange juice cocktail).
To eat, the lobster tagliolini with a creamy rocket, tomato and shellfish sauce, or the fresh spaghetti with crusty homemade bread and anchovies – a dish from the chef’s childhood – are both unmissable.
Wood- tiled floors, exposed brick walls, starched white tablecloths and leather-backed chairs strike a pleasant balance between elegance and informality. But for a more Italian ambience, weather permitting, head to the upstairs terrace for alfresco feasting.