Zazá Bistrô Tropical
Rua Joana Angélica, 40
Ipanema – Rio de Janeiro
Though we thrive on Açaí bowls and Acarajé, sometimes we want to visit someplace a little fancier. To celebrate L’s birthday we decided to gussy up and visit Zazá Bistrô Tropical in the heart of Ipanema, voted as one of the most romantic restaurants in Rio. You will notice the restaurant in its prominent corner spot right away – it is painted brightly blue and festooned with lights, giving you a clue to the eclectic decor inside.
When you enter Zazá Bistrô you are immediately struck by the whimsical décor – the walls are brightly painted and covered in artifacts (we especially enjoyed the altars on the first floor). There are two floors in the tiny restaurant – the first has bistro tables and a bar, and the second floor was decorated in a Moroccan style – with low tables and throw pillows. Zazá is also known for its unique bar menu – featuring a number of flavored Margaritas and Caipirinhas. The electric décor and menu also attracts an intentional crowd. We were seated near a veritable United Nations of diners: Brazilians, English, French, Argentines and Germans. Also appealing to the international clientele, there is both an English and Portuguese Menu.
The menu is eclectic as the décor, with a variety of Brazilian dishes with Southeast Asian touches. We enjoyed the cover: a basket of potato, manioc and sweet potato chips with wasabi yogurt sauce and tomato salsa (R$ 18). The international influence began with appetizers – which included Indian samosas and Moroccan chicken pastillas. For main courses, there was a wide variety of eclectic dishes, featuring seafood heavily. After a period of perusal, we ordered the mixed seafood ceviche with mangoes and green coconut curry (R$ 29) and the seared prawn and lemon risotto (R$ 65). A close runner up was the organic curry chicken (R$ 48) with coconut milk, lime, ginger and banana. Both of the dishes were flavorful and mixed Brazilian and Asian flavors elegantly, though the portions were slightly small. Vegetarians will also be happy to know there are several meat and seafood-free options.
For dessert there are a variety of house-made choices – we couldn’t resist the “Devil’s” chocolate cake (R$ 18), which was composed of a bittersweet chocolate souffle with a crunchy topping, accompanied with lemon sorbet. The rich chocolate cake, along with a little cafezinho was a perfect end to a night out. The food was tasty – but the lovely atmosphere, especially on the candle-lit second floor – completely made the night. Our evening at Zazá Bistrô was relaxed and delicious, and we definitely recommend it for those looking for a fun (but still relatively reasonable) night on the town.