Girarrosto, São Paulo, Brazil
Girarrosto occupies the space that once housed Pandoro, one of São Paulo most iconic haunts where the city’s elite went to check each other out over cocktails and some of the best bar food in the city. A staggeringly large investment has transformed this iconic space into one of the biggest and most high profile restaurants in the country. With so much to live up to, a heavyweight chef was needed. As luck would have it, Salvatore Loi - chef at celebrated São Paulo restaurant Fasano for some 13 years - was looking to move away from fine dining and help create something more inclusive.
At Fasano - which narrowly missed a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2011 - Loi built up a stellar reputation for his innovative Italian cooking that explored the country’s regions. At Girarrosto, the cooking is simplified but no less exciting and accurate: Loi proposes a culinary tour of his homeland with food inspired from all parts of the country. As you’d expect, the dishes are focused around the rotisserie grill from which the restaurant takes its name.
Loi’s trademark is combining the old with the new, so traditional, time-honoured recipes – some dating back 200 years – are refined, reinterpreted and reimagined. Ingredients shift with the seasons while Loi’s almost fanatical approach to sourcing the finest produce, both homegrown and from Italy, ensures the quality of food is second to none. In a nod to the space’s enviable heritage, Girarrosto’s bar inherits the Pandoro name and much of its spirit, allowing São Paulo’s movers and shakers to take a walk down memory lane.
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.
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.