Located inside the elegant Hotel Fasano, Fasano (Rua Vitorio Fasano 88, Jardim Paulista, tel. 11/3062-4000, www.fasano.com.br , 7:30 p.m.–1 a.m. Mon.–Sat., R$85–100) is São Paulo ’s undisputed temple of Italian alta cocina. Within its glossy dark interior (the walls are black Italian marble) wealthy and fashionable foodies of the world unite to partake of refined versions of classic Italian dishes such as partridge roasted in white wine with creamy polenta and an aromatic risoto del contadino with Tuscan sausage, white beans, and red wine. If you’re in the mood to really splurge, indulge in the R$260 menus de degustação—veritable mini banquets created according to specific themes and regions. Reservations are essential.
Before Antiquarius (Alameda Lorena 1884, Jardim Paulista, tel. 11/3082-3015, noon–3 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., 7 p.m.–1 a.m. Mon.–Thurs., 7 p.m.–2 a.m. Fri.–Sat., R$90–100) came along (the original is in Rio), most Brazilians thought Portuguese cuisine was limited to various ways of preparing bacalhau (salted cod). The chefs at this elegant—if overbearingly formal—restaurant serve inspired versions of this classic. However, they also have a way with seafood, as witnessed by the arroz de polvo (octopus risotto) and açorda de frutos de mar, a robust stew featuring shrimp, squid, and octopus. Although the prices are steep, the food is outstanding. The divine desserts are based on centuries-old recipes prepared by the nuns of Portugal’s convents.
Considered Sampa ’s finest Middle Eastern restaurant, Arábia (Rua Haddock Lobo 1397, Cerqueira César, Sao Paulo, tel. 11/3061-2203, www.arabia.com.br , R$25–35) serves delicately prepared traditional specialties such as charcoal grilled lamb mechoui and banquet-worthy mezzes—a sampling of 18 items ranging from taboule and hummus to Syrian sausage that can easily feed up to five people. The Moroccan couscous served on Saturdays has quite a following.