The best Portuguese restaurant in Rio de Janeiro.
In a shy neighborhood of Niterói, called Ponta D'Areia, very close to Rio de Janeiro, just off the Rio Niterói bridge is the most renowned Portuguese restaurant in the entire state, Gruta de Santo Antônio.
Holder of several awards, it was voted the best Portuguese restaurant in Rio de Janeiro and four times the best seafood option in Niterói, under the command of renowned Chef Alexandre Henriques, who received the award for best Chef in Rio de Janeiro from the newspaper O Globo. And the awards don't stop there, it's a long list!
The restaurant reminds us of a Portuguese family home, with dishes and family photos decorating the walls, especially of Dona Henriqueta, a nice lady who also runs the business together with her son. I loved the cozy atmosphere!
At his invitation, we were welcomed by the Chef to learn about the wonders that are worthy of so many awards in a guided tasting. We were given all the information we could and even discovered a little secret that Alexandre himself told us: the restaurant is about 10 minutes away from the fish market in Niterói, so its ingredients are always fresh and delicious! Some other ingredients that deserve more attention are imported and very well prepared, under the strict supervision of Alexandre, who prepares his dishes with the utmost care, and I could see in his eyes the love he has for his profession.
We tried the tasting menu, which is also available on the menu, and it all started with a delicious cod-filled pastel de nata, certainly the crispiest pastry I've ever tasted in my life, with a very generous filling that makes you daydream just by putting a piece in your mouth! Yes, I'm salivating just remembering it!
We then moved on to the Shrimp a Bulhão de Pato, with a perfect sauce that deserves to be the seasoning on the house bread until the plate is clean.
Next comes a pan of langoustines, which I also suggest complementing with the bread. All the spices and sauces are very unique to the place, making a perfect harmony with the dish.
After these tasty starters came the main course, the Chef's Codfish, which is the most tender and tasty I've ever tasted, and I'm the granddaughter of a Portuguese woman who cooks very well HUMMM! Accompanied by fried potatoes and caramelized onions, it was really delicious!
And to finish off the menu, three typical sweets that have earned the name of pajaminha de doces portugueses, with a pastel de nata (or also known as de Belém, but it's worth noting that the real pastel de Belém only goes by that name in Belém, Heim? Don't get confused lol), orange rocambole with almonds and toucinho do céu, which is one of my favorite desserts!
I really liked the Tasting Menu option because it offers a wide variety of the house's delicacies, served for R$ 98.00 from Monday to Friday. At weekends the place is very busy and because of Chef Alexandre's personal care, preparing all this in large quantities would be inhumane.
We also tried a great option for weekenders or those who simply don't like cod like Igor, who chose the seafood pasta, very well served, of course I also ate a little bit with him, it was so beautiful that I couldn't resist, and I'll confess after tasting this dish I was very doubtful about which was better, so I can say that I liked absolutely EVERYTHING there!
I have to congratulate the chef for his care and for the wonders he turns into dishes, and sign off on his deserving of the award.
Did you think the surprises were over?
The restaurant also has a wine cellar with various wine labels, but unfortunately I wasn't able to try any as I'm pregnant, but I'll definitely be back to try more delicacies and pair them with a good wine to enhance the palate!
Do you enjoy the cuisine of our colonizers and ancestors? I liked it a lot!