After combing through the culinary section of the bookstore in Shopping Leblon, I managed to emerge with a pocketbook largely unscathed, though my want list has increased some...like the massive "Je Sais Cuisiner" (preferably in French, as I've heard the translation leaves something to be desired, and what better way to learn a language than through dinner prep?). With growling stomachs and grumpy attitudes to match, we were craving pizza.
I should say, dear hubby wanted pizza. I wanted PIZZA.
It was all his fault, for showing me pictures from one of Jamie Oliver's books, a lush spread of crispy, truly Italian pizzas pulled right out of their fiery furnace. PIZZA. Which bears little resemblance to Brazilian pizza, which is not to say that the Brazilian version is bad. But it's doesn't satisfy this food snob's cravings.
Brazilian pizza varies in crust quality, but most are floppy, white and to my tastebuds, woefully undercooked. Bland. Icky. A little sauce is miserly applied, cheese and a splash of oregano flakes...and then the toppings applied. Which range from fried garlic and shrimp in their shells, Portuguesa (including peppers, hard boiled eggs and olives), and the classic Hawaiian, to some truly quirky options like steak and potatoes (with french fries on top), codfish, or stroganoff pizza. In addition, Brazilians tend to serve pizza together with tiny packets of mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. The Italians are having attacks right now, just thinking of ketchup and mustard on pizza, I know.
So we were debating what to do for dinner when we saw a "rodizio" restaurant, offering all-you-can-eat pizza for R$22 a person. Not bad, especially for Leblon. I peeked it to see what the other customers were eating and it didn't look too scary. We had to wait close to 25 minutes to get in, because of the line, but it was so, so worth it. This pizza is the best I've had in Rio (though not as good as the "beringela e alho" from the Queen restaurant on Praia São Francisco in Niteroí. Divine.) Their crust was perfect, with tell-tale scorch marks that are the mark of a good pizza (in my humble opinion). The toppings varied without being weird or inedible: we liked the Baiano with spicy calabresa sausage and the heavy-on-the-blue-cheese 4 cheese).
If you're in town, go. It's a nice way to load up on carbs for the weekend, if you don't mind the wait. Otherwise, make reservations!
Frontera: Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 630