The Birra Moretti Best Emerging Italian Restaurant Awards - South America
Celebrating the essence of Italian food and drink culture around the world
The brainchild of Salvatore Loi, Girarrosto is a hugely ambitious restaurant project in the heart of São Paulo. Loi - who headed up the kitchen at Fasano for 13 years - has moved away from elitist, tasting menu dining to create something altogether more democratic: a 270 cover space specialising in meat and fish cooked on the restaurant’s eponymous girarrosto, a classic Italian rotisserie grill. All the dishes are simple and rustic, a good example being a plate of homemade bigoli (a thick long pasta that closely resembles bucatini) with a delicate smoky ragu of slow-cooked duck deftly spiked with juniper berries. Many of Loi’s staff have followed him from Fasano to Girarrosto and front of house never misses a beat, despite the operational challenges of this enormous and consistently packed out space. Award page →
Runner-up: Acquarello, Mexico City, Mexico
With stints under three Michelin star chefs Alain Chapel and Heinz Winkler, Italian-born Mario Gamba is quite the celebrity in Mexico City with a super trendy restaurant on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, a stretch often dubbed the city’s Fifth Avenue. Acquarello is unmissable, an architect-designed hulk of backlit metal and glass. The cuisine is as style-conscious as the design: fig tortellini topped with a grilled chunk of foie gras and a sweet reduction of cassis liquor, or perhaps an expertly poached tenderloin of beef with grilled artichokes and a reduction of mandarin oranges. Most of Acquarello’s fashionistas stick to the cocktails but the comprehensive wine list - which has a particular focus on Mexican producers - should not be overlooked.
Runner-up: Italpast, Buenos Aires, Argentina
With around half of the population of Italian descent, it’s hardly surprising the Argentine capital is stuffed full of decent Italian eateries. One of the best restaurants is just outside the city limits in Campana, and it’s testimony to the quality of chef Pedro Picciau’s cooking that so many are willing to make the hour long trek from the city centre to this low key osteria. The restaurant is focused on pizza and pasta but the slow-cooked meat dishes should be sampled too. Most fresh ingredients are sourced locally but some cheeses, cured meats and vinegar and oil and bought in from Italy. A true family affair, Pedro’s wife Mona keeps the restaurant’s 500 bin wine list and dining room in check.