Located on the corner of Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva and rua Aristides Espiñola in Leblon, this unassuming little restaurant with a neon sign is a popular late-night eatery with locals. Cariocas typically don’t eat dinner until around 10pm or so, but we arrived right around 9 o’clock, which worked out perfectly because a violent storm quickly moved through not 10 minutes after we sat down in the covered sidewalk seating. I’m pretty sure this place stays crowded until late in the morning, because by the time we left, there was a wait to be seated.
We ordered a gigante pizza, half four-cheese, half margherita (fresh tomato slices, mozzarella, and baby basil), and a bottle of French red wine to go with it. I couldn’t help but notice that one of the TVs was running the awful film Say It Ain’t So, starring Heather Graham. I'll never escape bad American cinema!
All right—unless you have a bottomless stomach, go for the smaller pizza if you’re splitting it with one other person. As incredibly good as it was, a gigante was just too much. The four-cheese side was (surprise, surprise) very rich and very filling. The margherita, though not quite as filling, was also served in pretty huge slices.
The staff make it hard for you to stop, too; instead of simply leaving the whole pizza on our table, they cut each of us one slice and took the rest of the pie back to keep it warm. As soon as you were done with one slice, there they were with another piping-hot one to replace it. Needless to say, we hardly ate anything the next day.
Most guidebooks consistently rate Pizzaria Guanabara as one of the best of its kind in Rio, and I highly recommend stopping in. The service was excellent: an English-speaking waiter helped us with the menu, they adjusted our slightly wobbly table until it was just right, and they even pulled the seat out for my beautiful companion when we were shown to our table. Even though it’ll probably be busy, try to arrive after 10:30pm to catch the local scene. After you’re done, walk down to popular Jobi just up the street for a few drinks.
by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
June 20, 2004
From journal Thumbs Up Rio!