With over 15,000 restaurants, 20,000 bars and around 60 different typical cuisines, São Paulo has so much options on food that visitors should not worry about finding a great place to eat but to pick a delectable experience to entertain your senses. If your appetite is for an exceptional meal prepared with local ingredients and high-level creativity (with a fair price), all forks point to A Casa do Porco [The Pork House].
Opened in October 2015 by chef Jefferson Rueda, the restaurant is located in República, downtown, as part of a movement aimed to revitalize the area. With a butcher on site, pork cuts (the main raw material for most of the dishes) come out daily. From the window, transients can buy pork rinds (served as popcorn) and sandwiches to go.
Inside the restaurant, the casual atmosphere matches graffiti (by street-artist Flip) with rustic wooden tables. Although Rueda is a renowned chef – he represented Brazil in Lyon’s Bocuse d’Or, won a Michelin star and joined the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants while working as a chef for restaurant Attimo – the luxury of his restaurant comes from the simplicity. Rueda is part of a new generation of chefs that has redefined the concept of fine dining in Brazil, working with outstanding ingredients and first-rate preparation, without falling into snobbery.
Before becoming a chef, Rueda worked as a butcher, surrounded by producers, artisans and popular chefs. It was the foundation for his pork house, which serves local workers on lunchtime to distinguished visitors, including Catalan Ferran Adrià, one of the most groundbreaking chefs in history. “The best hog roast I ever had”, said Adriá on his last visit to the country. Not surprisingly, the restaurant just joined Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016.
As in any hot spot, A Casa do Porco is always crowded; from the opening to closing hours (Monday to Friday from 12pm – 12am, Sunday 12pm – 5pm) there is a line that takes at least one-hour wait. On my visit in last September, I opted for a meal between rush hours, at 3pm, and was able to get a table right away. To avoid indecision among the nearly 40 dishes on the menu, I picked the tasting menu, which includes 2 charcuteries, 7 appetizers and the Porco San Zé, the most popular dish of the house. Price range is around R$ 100 per person (approx. US$ 35).
Based in the city with the largest Japanese population outside Japan, and hundreds of restaurants with this specialty, Rueda plays with the presentation of his very Brazilian cuisine, bringing to the table a temaki pork tartar with hume hana and shissô, also a niguiri pork jowl with black tucupi, a sauce extracted from wild manioc found in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. It’s a great surprise for the eyes and the palate.
Although none of the entries disappoint, the highlight goes to the pancetta with guava. Confit and fried in lard (pig fat), it comes crispy with a generous layer of guava jam and pepper, making it incredibly rich but irresistible.
As a main dish, Porco San Zé is smoked for about 8 hours, resulting in a combination of soft, juicy meat and crispy skin. Accompanying collard greens, tutu beans (cooked beans mixed with cassava flour), Brazilian crumbs and a delicious banana tartar.
For dessert, be sure to try the guava compote with fresh cheese from São José do Rio Pardo, interior of São Paulo state and the chef’s hometown. After all you will leave A Casa do Porco with the certainty of having chosen the right address to try the best flavors of Brazil.
A Casa do Porco
R. Araújo, 124 – República
São Paulo 01220-020
+55 11 3258-2578