Carefully resuming the search for new restaurants, I find myself in the Moema district with two houses separated by a few blocks, of different size, in offer, in food, but with a curious point in common: they belong to two foreigners imprisoned in their restaurants on Covid-19. Prison relieved by Brazilian women who also hold their attention here.
Casa Manzano is a mix of a small Italian restaurant with a bistro pint and Argentinian accent, donated by owner Mariano Manzano, a 64-year-old porteño who already lived in Brazil, but dedicated to his custom magazine editor, made inactive with the pandemic.
Barcelos is also different, a franchise nothing like the Brazilian galleries: its broilers have striking spices, fruit marinades and sauces that resemble the spicy flavors of the African countries of Portuguese colonization.
They were brought by Konstantino Mazzis, 64, a businessman with multiple origins: the son of Greeks who had just arrived in Brazil, he was born in Rio de Janeiro but left the country at the age of eight. , in the direction of South Africa, where he lives. He would not return to Brazil until 52 years later, in 2017, with the intention of opening a branch of his grilled chicken network.
At the report’s request, the two gathered for lunch, first fanning the palate with empanadas at Casa Manzano; then attack the Barcelos chicken (in both cases, using your hands). There they told their stories.
Manzano was already living here. Since 2001 he has been torn between Buenos Aires and an apartment in São Paulo – until he met a Brazilian and got married last year.
He had previously owned two restaurants – in Argentina and Uruguay – between 1996 and 1998. “Last year I started planning a small bistro to maybe occupy myself in the future, like a retirement”, he said.
“But with the pandemic, life plan B has become an AAA + A plan,” he jokes, referring to the house that opened in September, amid the storm.
In the case of Konstantino, owner of the franchise chain founded in 1994, with 148 houses in 19 countries, the plan was to open a branch here, but to continue driving from Pretoria, where he lives. “Before, I had a bar, a hamburger shop, each in a different way, until I realized that it was easier to have only one restaurant, the size of which could be reproduced, ”he explains.
After a few visits to Brazil, he decided to open Barcelos in Moema, with local partners. It is true that he also met a Brazilian woman on the Internet, whom he personally met in Brazil, and today he is his wife.
In March of this year, he came to spend the carnival with her. He’s been stuck here ever since. The restaurant opened in July, initially with delivery.
For the Brazilians, seeing the two gringos forced to devote themselves to their restaurants has been a profit.
Casa Manzano has its originality by combining Italian dishes (burrata with sweet tomatoes and pesto; potato gnocchi, tomato sauce and crunchy garlic) with Argentinian touches: the empanadas (the traditional one, the meat; the humita , corn) have delicate pasta and hearty and tasty toppings, and the chorizo steak (but with risotto …).
“You have to add a Brazilian touch: the empanadas come with pepper sauce, on the side, and a salad, things that never happen in Argentina,” he says – not to mention the bossa soundtrack. nova in the environment.
Barcelos – whose trademark is a rooster, symbol of the Portuguese city of the same name – brought a spicy flavor to São Paulo. “Chicken is cheap and popular meat in South Africa,” says Konstantino.
“This spicy flavor is typical of Mozambique, and was taken there by the Portuguese, who used their peri-peri pepper. I presented it in South Africa and it was a success.
“The secret is the marinade: the chicken is soaked in the seasoning I have developed, inside a vacuum machine that expands the pores of the meat.”
An efficient process: in addition to introducing flavor, it also makes the chicken more succulent – it does not dry out when it is broiled, as seen in the wings served as a starter, or on the kebab of drumsticks (a showy skewer served suspended).
All sauces, without pepper or with different degrees of spices, are prepared in South Africa, from where they are distributed in all branches of the world.
Kosta is looking for a return flight, possibly making pirouet stops around the world. But even when you can travel, Barcelos stays.
Casa Manzano will meet the same fate: in addition to plans to take over his publishing house, the owner has just had a Brazilian son, and he will not be leaving anytime soon.
Casa Manzano – r. Graúna, 189, Moema. Tuesday to Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sat .: 8:30 am to 10 pm; Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Barcelos – r. Canário, 544, Moema. Tuesday to Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. Saturday) and 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sun: 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.