Craving Good Pizza In Jardim Botanico?

Craving really good pizza in Brazil?! Head over to Braz Pizza Tradicional but try to get there on the earlier side as this spot is known to have quite the long wait! Lines form around 830, at this upscale yet relaxed pizza place (reminds me of Patsy’s in NY)

Famous for their PÃO DE CALABRESA theirfamous bread, filled layered with sausage and other spices, baked in wood-fired oven.’ It is incredible, *also comes in a spinach version for you vegetarians.  Get a nice bottle of red and it is the perfect combo to kick start your evening.

Yes they serve many other Italian dishes that did looked amazing, but this was a pizza mission.  With over 41 pizzas to choose from you are in for a real treat!

Under the strict teachings of Neapolitan pizza makers and with 100% Italian ingredients this pizza will satisfy any pizza craving you have (and I have been eating NY pizza for 5 years now!).  What I found to be a great surprise, is that you can have a combination of any 3 pizzas on the menu (perfect for those who can’t decide what they want because they want all of them!). I recommend the Caprese (your classic base of mozzarella, plump tomato slices, giant leaves of basil pesto and black olives), Primo (Procuitto de Parma and mozzarella) and Basílica (mozzarella topped with arugula pesto and cherry tomatoes).  The waiter will give you once slice at a time, as he sees you finishing that piece he will run over with more.

If it is a nice night, check out the garden seating in the back.  Great place for a group, if you are craving authentic pizza or just want a great casual night out, head over to Braz

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Craving the Best Asian Food in Rio?! Head over to Mr Lam

Looking for a modern, fun, ‘New York style’ swanky Asian restaurant in Rio?! Head to Mr Lam  in Jardim Botanico (ie the Central Park of Zona Sul).  The story goes that entrepreneur Eike Batista enjoyed his meal at Mr Chow in New York SO much that he brought him to Rio to open Mr.Lam.  Talk about a dedicated customer- The corner table on the first floor of Mr. Lam is reserved for Eike Batista and usually other patrons are not welcome to dine at his table! He really did bring a piece of ‘New York’ to Rio with this multilevel trendy restaurant- not a typical set up for restaurants here in Rio.

The first floor is bright, and nicely spread out- as you can see people aren’t sitting on top of each other.  Apparently, it is also the more ‘family friendly’ floor.  The second floor contains a private room for parties— while walking up the stairs when you get to the second floor all your see is a big red curtain lining the floor.  Personally, I loved the 3rd floor terrace- with a sliding roof, you get an amazing view of the Christ Statue (Corcovado) on one side and Lagoa (the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon) on the other.  It has more of a lounge feel and has some great old school music videos playing on the big screen;)

For starters we enjoyed the famous chicken satay and sqwab with lettuce. Delicious!! I highly recommend trying both: the satay has that wonderful peanut sauce you love but its a little sweeter (if you are reading this and live in NYC- head to Phillippe, tastes the same) and the ‘sqwab’ is minced chicken, perfectly spiced which you use to form your perfect lettuce wrap.  For the main course we had the crispy duck which was phenomenal! This restaurant is known for superb duck dishes, especially the Peking duck (fyi takes 60mins to prepare so it is advised you order ahead of time, it is also large, better for a group of 4).  It was wonderful, the service was impeccable;  the waiter event prepared each ‘moo shoo’ style wrap for you. (which was quite nice)

Though I didn’t try the noodle dish, as you can see from the picture above, they are hand thrown noodles created table side.  It was great to watch, and when finished the waiter brought the fresh noodles around to show people.

However, it was the ‘Mini Bang’ dessert that seals the deal making this restaurant top 5 in Rio de Janeiro.  Mini pots of chocolate mouse/cream with a caramelized cherry at the center and pop rocks sprinkled on top! On the side there are two yummy caramel sauces a simple and a spicy for you to pour on or dip your mouse into.  Of course there is an additional line of pop rock candy decorating the center of the plate— Mmmmm good!! 

I highly recommend Mr. Lam! It is the perfect spot for a special occasion, romantic night out, a group dinner, or if you are just craving a perfectly prepared meal with a beautiful atmosphere.

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Botanical Gardens: Jardim Botânico

Jardim Botanico is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places to go in Rio.  It costs R$5 (or $3 US) to enter into the 54 hectares of green paradise which has over 6,500 different species (some endangered). Once inside there are 3 different paths you can start your journey on…

  The center path: Avenue of Royal Palms(shown above) is a 750 m line of 134 palm trees leading from the entrance into the gardens.   These palms all descended from a single tree, the Palma Mater, long since destroyed by lightning. These were the tallest palm trees I have ever seen in my life! I started down the first path which lead me through a green maze to a number of small waterfalls.       Can you see the hidden face?After the waterfalls we explored some of the greenhouses. My favorite was  Insectivorous Greenhouse (below).  As you can see, this is definitely not your average greenhouse! There was water flowing in every directions, and you are completely surrounded by beautiful bright colored flowers and plants.  Throughout the natural flora the Botanical Gardens also include: 6 thematic gardens (including Japanese) , lakes, cascades, greenhouses, the Herbarium, Barbosa Rodrigues Library, a photographic collection, the Tropical Botanical School, visitors center and an Archeological site.

The statue of ‘Eco and Narcisco’ (above) as well as the tall-legged birds (below) were brought to the park from downtown Rio. A little art history for you folks: All of of these sculptures are the work of Mestre Valentim, the Brazilian master and are housed in the memorial bearing his name.

Overall, Jardim Botanico was one of the most beautiful, pristine, relaxing activities I have done since I got here… nice to ‘zen’ out for the day:)

Graffiti – Jardim Botânico

Personally, I am a huge fan of graffiti, and here in Rio, you truly see art everywhere. Since you are not here to see it live, I will be bringing this amazing graffiti to you from all the different areas of Brazil! For my first entry on Graffiti I am taking you to Jardim Botânico or the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (which I will cover in an upcoming post). There are miles of walls covered in gorgeous graffiti, from scenic views…

and underwater adventures to nature; you can expect all sorts of beautiful images gracing the walls surrounding the various areas.

Artists here use vibrant colors and various techniques to express themselves.  Really brightens up the city! There is also a surprising amount of “Japanimation” (anime) which I will cover in an upcoming post.  Hope you enjoyed your first taste of the wonderful ‘street art’ Rio has to offer