1256 St. Clair Avenue West
In her opinion:
Toronto was a major traffic nightmare this weekend due to the Molson Indy. So we decided to stick to restaurants north of St. Clair Avenue. Our original intentions involved going to Hardys Hogtown Brasserie since it's been recently featured in the newest edition of the LCBO's Food and Drink Magazine. However, the bbq gods made sure that didn't happen. They were surprising closed for lunch on a Saturday. This left us with a little dilemma since we didn't want to head south and weren't quite sure there was anywhere nearby that we wanted to try. So we decided to park and look for somewhere to have lunch on St. Clair West. Edgar spotted Rio 40 while looking for a parking spot. It mentioned that it had Brazilian, Portuguese and Italian food. Sounded good to me.
This is a large space with a large patio for al fresco dining. We opted to stay inside since I love air conditioning. We were seated right away and given menus. We ordered our drinks...I chose sparkling water. The waitress brought us a bread basket and we placed our orders. We started with the Fruta de Mar appetizer. This was described on the special's menu as Mussels and Clams in Sauce. Well, after waiting quite a long time for our appetizer the waitress came over to say that it would be only clams since the mussels had turned. We were fine with this...I personally like avoiding food poisoning!
Well, these clams were so so good. Absolutely delicious. They were very fresh. The sauce was excellent. Onions, peppers and cilantro in a delicious beer based sauce. Worthy of bread dunking!
For my main course I chose from the special's menu again, this time Feijoada...a Brazilian Bean Stew. It was served in the traditional manner with collard greens refogado, white rice and lightly roasted coarse cassava flour mixed with onion called farofa and orange slices.
This was outstanding. I love Portuguese feijoada and have always wanted to try the Brazilian version. So when I saw this on the menu I jumped at the opportunity. The bean stew itself was excellent. It was very flavourful. There was a variety of meats in the mixture...ribs, linguica (Portuguese smoked sausage), corned beef, pork belly and bacon. It had the slow cooked flavour of a good stew. The rice was delicious...perfectly flavoured. The collard greens were sauteed in garlic and tasted outstanding. I wasn't crazy about the cassava flour mixture but I can appreciate the authenticity of the meal. The oranges added a lot of freshness to a heavy dish. So good. It certainly lived up to my expectations.
We decided not to have to have dessert at Rio 40 since there was another place we had spotted for dessert. But from the desserts I saw around me, their selection looked great. I would definitely recommend Rio 40 and would return without a moments hesitation.
In his opinion:
Nothing like stumbling into a restaurant by accident and having it end up being a great experience. After driving by 3 times, looking for parking and with our eyes on another restaurant, faith had it that we ended up at Rio 40 degrees.
Rio 40 degrees is a predominately Brazilian restaurant but does carry Portuguese and Italian dishes. Given its location on St. Clairs "Corso Italia", one might say that it does cater to the neighborhood and its ethnicity.
The place itself is a two level split restaurant with large photo artwork of various Rio de Janeiro landscapes. A couple of large LCD flat screens and the Brazilian flag adorn the walls and looked like the perfect place to watch the upcoming 2014 World Cup, that just happens to be taking place in Brazil.
The menu is varied in its range but has some really traditional Brazilian dishes in it, justifying the large contingency of Portuguese speaking Brazilians in the restaurant that day, and I'm sure every day.
For our shared appetizer, we ordered the "Mussels and Clams". After 10 minutes we were told that the mussels were not available and if we still wanted to keep the clam order. We did, and I'm very glad we did. The clams were very tasty in a brothy sauce of cilantro, onions, peppers and beer.
After great consideration of the menu (lots of choices), I opted for the special of the day "Espetada de Picanha". This translates to skewers of delicious rump steak, shrimp and linguica (smoked/cured Portuguese pork sausage).
For those of you unfamiliar with Picanha beef, let me tell you that in my opinion, it is one of the tastiest, more tender meats I have ever tasted in my whole life. I first had it in Aruba in a Brazilian Rodizio (all you can eat meat on skewers) restaurant. It is the top sirloin cap (coulotte or colotte) of a cow and never to be confused with just regular top sirloin. It is usually served medium and it is traditional in the Brazilian Rodizio restaurants.
My dish also came with a house salad and a healthy dose of white rice, also a staple in Brazilian cuisine. The meat was amazingly tender and juicy, just melt in your mouth goodness. The shrimps and the linguica were well cooked and just lightly charbroiled from the BBQ.
This dish was also a lot bigger than it looks on the plate. My wife put a healthy dose of feijoada on top of my rice and I could barely finish the dish.
Feijoada com arroz (rice and beans) are one of the main staples in Brazilian food and as authentic as it gets.
The service was great, the manager came to see us to ensure all was well and the waitress was very pleasant and she assumed correctly that we could speak Portuguese, not sure if she does that with everyone.
The Good: Authentic food in a relaxing, laid back atmosphere.
The Bad: Appetizers took 20 minutes to get to the table and they difficulty with the mussels for the clams and mussels.
The Verdict: Great place for authentic Brazilian food and friendly service. Would be an amazing place to watch the World Cup or any soccer event.
I give it a 3 out of 5 olives as rating