It’s true that the south zone of Rio de Janeiro has it all – great restaurants, chic bars and golden beaches. Yet, that doesn’t mean the rest of the city has nothing else to offer. Far from it, in fact. Those in the know head to edgy nightclubs behind concealed doors, quirky bars with alternative clientele and charming restaurants that serve food from the heart.
This is one of the reasons I love living in the north zone of the city. Classy eateries and trendy bars are not found on every street corner; you need to seek them out. So I was really happy when Now in Rio were invited to check out Donninha in Tijuca, a restaurant that combines a little bit of everything – ample space for the remote worker, live music, an outdoor bar and a delivery service. Its multifaceted nature makes it possible to go there anytime on any day for whatever need you may have. This feature along with the fact it is just two subway stops from my house won my heart.
The first floor (if the floor at street level can be considered ‘ground floor’) is one of my favourite spots at the moment and I spend many afternoons there making the most of their reliable and strong Wi-fi to work outside the house. I love the wide tables, the low-volume pop music and decorative hanging baskets of plants dotted around. Other quirky details include a naked mannequin hanging outside the toilets and a chessboard for those looking for a test of mental strategy over lunch. It’s always relaxed there and the staff never seem bothered by the fact that I’m working there for sometimes four or more hours straight. These are some of my most productive days.
Of course, long days of work like those need proper fuel and the pasta dishes on the menu do the job perfectly. I always think that I will eat half now and save the rest for later but I never do and I never learn. My favourite pasta dish is the pasta with pesto and parmesan cheese. It’s homemade and delicious.
But what about the night Now in Rio went there? We went there on a Monday evening after being invited to try the food. We started with freshly-squeezed fruit juice which was just the right tart and just the right sweet, accompanied by freshly baked baguette with slices of sausage. Next up were the burgers. As there were two of us, we tried both the meat and the chicken ones and split it between us. I rarely eat chicken burgers being quite the carnivore towards red meat but it went beyond my expectations and was really good. Just when I felt I couldn’t eat anymore, they brought us out a pizza. I have to admit, even in the name of research, I was too full to try it, settling with simply smelling it. I did inhale deeply and I can assure you it smelled amazing so I can strongly conclude it must taste equally as good. When they brought out the brownies and ice-cream, I suddenly found room (I swear my stomach is divided into sweet and
There is also a second floor at Donninha which has live music every Monday evening. It’s a really friendly and animated atmosphere filled with genuine warmth and good fun. The venue closes at 11 pm but the delivery service continues until around 2 am. You can also pick up drinks and continue the high of the live music on Mondays outside in the parking lot at the back which is wonderfully old-school.
The owners effortlessly breathe life and warmth into the place and it’s clear that a lot of effort and soul has gone into the venue. They also employ refugees that are seeking asylum in Brazil and so helping to support a global issue by providing fair employment to people in desperate need of normality. For a homely venue with great, honest food and a friendly atmosphere that is out of the tourist hotspots, you can’t go far wrong with Donninha.
- Donninha, R. Santo Afonso, 445 – Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
+55 (21) 3199 1133
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 6 am to 11 pm. Delivery until 2 am.
Don’t miss the live music on Mondays!
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