Brazilian celebrity Chef Felipe Bronze performs culinary alchemy at this super-trendy Jardim Botanico restaurant. The menu largely eschews main dishes in favor of a dazzling array of small plates, and Brazilian ingredients are given a contemporary spin through the use of innovative cooking methods, scientific know-how and a seemingly endless imagination. Cases in point include tiny cones made of acai 'paper' and filled with tapioca, white fish and fruits from Brazil's northeast. The culinary party tricks continue with dessert, and the dishes are as tasty as they are innovatively presented. Those who frown upon contemporary restaurants' sometimes 'out there' food presentation will wince at the lack of traditional plates here, but if you're after food as grand theater, this is the place to come.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This upscale, ultra-modern restaurant will create culinary memories to savour long after the meal is over.
Lucy's expert tip: Splurge on one of the taster menus - comprising five, seven or nine courses - if you want to get the best Oro experience.
This top-end French restaurant is arguably the most celebrated eatery in Rio de Janeiro, and is manned by celebrity chef Claude Troisgros - of the multi Michelin-starred Troisgras family of France. The award-strewn restaurant offers such delicacies as raw salmon with ginger, and organic eggs with caviar, and gives French dishes a Brazilian twist with the addition of locally-sourced fruit, vegetables and seasonings. Not a spot for the budget traveler, this is a wonderful 'special occasion' restaurant, and the degustation menu, at R$260 is a real feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds thanks to Troisgros' immaculate presentation.
This elegant seafood-focused Italian restaurant at the super-chic Fasano Rio hotel is a favorite among business people looking to impress clients, as well as with romantic types looking to impress their dates. The Phillipe-Starck designed interiors have a cool, minimalist style with plenty of crisp white linen, and diners can request a private table separated from the main room by linen curtains. There are views over the beach, and the food is high quality, if also highly expensive. Chef Paolo Lavezzini joined the restaurant from the triple-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, and creates wonderful pastas and seafood risottos, as well as other dishes that combine local ingredients with Mediterranean flavors.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fasano Al Mare is an elegant restaurant serving some of the best seafood in Rio.
Lucy's expert tip: Request a private table if you want to be able to exchange sweet nothings without the distraction of other diners.
A relatively recent addition to Rua Dias Ferreira's already-illustrious drinking and dining scene, the chic whitewashed space that is Brigite's has fast become part of the well-heeled establishment. The bistro-style dishes are as immaculately presented as the restaurant and its clientele, and light dishes such as the 'Salada Brigite's' - crisp mixed leaves topped with grilled squid, drizzled with passion fruit and garnished with a flower - are perfect for body conscious beach goers. The bar serves up a wonderful range of cocktails, too, many of which put colorful Brazilian fruits to good use.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This is foodie heaven, and couples can take their pick from a street full of upmarket bar-restaurants.
Lucy's expert tip: Brigite's is a good place for romantic dining with a relaxed vibe.
For a taste of Rio's Belle Epoque past, head to this historic cafe-restaurant in downtown Rio. Ornate chandeliers and jacaranda wood mirrors make an elegant setting for breakfasts, brunches and afternoon teas, and this is the ideal place to take the weight of your feet and soak up the opulence during a Centro shopping or sightseeing spree. Head here for a quick espresso and a pastry at the stand up balcony or sit down and relax with a full breakfast spread complete with breads, coffee, cakes, jams, jellies, juices and fruit. Just don't forget your camera to capture the grandeur of the place.
For the ultimate indulgent Rio experience, head to the Pergula, the elegant poolside restaurant at the enduringly elegant Copacabana Palace hotel. Less formal than the hotel's fine dining Italian restaurant, Cipriani. at Pergula you can dine in your (suitanbly stylish) swimwear and sarong. Watch beautiful people splash around in the pool as you sip Champagne cocktails and dine on seafood and light pasta dishes, or head here for the famous breakfasts and brunches, which include salmon and even caviar washed down with a spot of bubbly. The likes of the Obamas, Will Smith and Madonna have all dined here, so keep your eyes peeled for A-listers.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This is a lovely spot for relaxed al-fresco dining in one of Rio's most picturesque neighborhoods.
Lucy's expert tip: You don't need to be a guest at the hotel to dine here, but it pays to dress in your most chic casual wear if you want to make it past the doorman.
This chic Italian restaurant is housed within the elegant confines of Copacabana Palace Hotel, and welcomes non-guests with reservations. The service is as impeccable as the renderings of Italian dishes made with fresh seasonal ingredients, and the fresh pasta is simply wonderful. This is about as formal as dining gets in Rio, so put on your glad rags if you want to feel at home in a spot that has catered to a range of A-listers that takes in such diverse names as the Obamas, Will Smith, Madonna and Mick Jagger. There´s no need to go for full on black-tie and tux, but smart attire is a must.
Located high on a jungle-clad hillside in Santa Teresa, Aprazivel is worth a visit for the views alone. Wisely making the most of the sweeping vistas over downtown Rio, the owners have made al-fresco dining the order of the day, here, with grass-roofed gazebos sitting amid lush tropical gardens visited by toucans and monkeys. At night, the scene is lit by candles and flickering fairy lights which, when combined with the views and the delicious French-Brazilian dishes on the menu, makes this one of the best spots in Rio for a romantic meal. Chef Ana Castilho has combined Brazilian culinary influences with tricks of hte trade learned during her training in France, and the result is a menu of light dishes that add some chic French touches to the wealth of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood available locally.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Beautiful tropical gardens with terrific views make this a lovely spot on a balmy evening.
Lucy's expert tip: Call ahead to book tables if you want to sit outside - these seats are extremely popular on balmy evenings.
There's no danger of going hungry at Copacabana beach. While vendors stroll the sands selling simple snacks and sandwiches, the boardwalk is lined with bars and restaurants that range from cheap and cheerful to seriously sophisticated. Here you can tuck into everything from a plate of fried sardines to smoked salmon washed down with a glass of genuine French Champagne. When it comes to relaxed dining, this is really the way to do it, and the leisurely pace of life here means you can linger as long as you like over your meal and drinks. With some kiosks open into the small hours, this is a great place to start or end a night out.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The gorgeous beachfront setting, with Sugar Loaf in the background, turns even a simple meal into a romantic occasion.
Lucy's expert tip: The beachfront restaurants are super-relaxed spaces - come in your swimwear and you can work on your tan as you eat and drink.
Fine international food and equally fine views are the order of the day at this upscale restaurant in the plush confines of 5-star Hotel Santa Teresa. It's not necessary to fork out for a room here in order to dine here (in fact there's a separate entrance) and it's a major destination restaurant in its own right. The location, high on a Santa Teresa hillside, means that seats near the windows offer gorgeous views down to Guanabara Bay, and the creative menu has a French touch, while embracing local ingredients (fish dishes are a strong suit) and pan-continental flavors.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fine food and fine views make this an elegant option for a romantic meal in one of Rio's loveliest neighborhoods.
Lucy's expert tip: Plan to come here later in the week to make the most of Santa Teresa's famously lively bar scene (things are quiet Monday-Wednesday)