Whilst I was in Bonito, Brazil, I crossed paths with a restaurant owner by the name of Felipe Caran Vizcaino. Within the first 10 minutes of meeting Felipe, he revealed to me the most popular restaurant in Bonito, his pride and joy, Casa do João. Casa do João can be found off the main street on R. Nelsom Felicio and every night it is packed with people.When I first saw Casa do João, the word ‘chain’ came to mind, something i was keen to avoid. But after I learned the story behind Casa do João any thoughts that this was Bonitos equivalent to a ‘Nandos’ soon disappeared!The family run restaurant is an extension of the house that Felipe grew up in. Growing up they didn’t have a lot of money. So Felipe took action and moved to London for 4
years to complete a degree in business management. He then returned home and started to cook local dishes infused with his own adaptations to sell to the locals. He also began to sell handicrafts from the house. Gradually the restaurant became more and more popular as people gathered to enjoy the Brazilian dishes, especially the Amazonian fish (which is simply the best!) A new extension was built around the house to contain the restaurant and the old house became a place to sell his own work and local handicrafts. There is even an antiques section in the hallway!
The fish here is a must. It’s caught locally and because the Amazonian fish are so big (sometimes 3 meters long) there are no bones in the dishes because they are easy to remove. My favourite dish has to be ‘Chef Leos Pirarucu’. The white flaky fish came in a ginger and coconut milk sauce, it was delicious and there was a lot of sides that came with it including a Brazilian favourite called garlic farofa which you sprinkle over the fish, rice and potatoes. Not only is the food here exceptional, the service was excellent and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Felipe’s father is even in the restaurant each night greeting customers.
I had probably only known Felipe for about half an hour when he asked if I wanted a drink, and invited me and the boyfriend back to his private bar/outdoor lounge area which had a huge sofa filled with cushions (and yes I did dive onto it!) and a very old tortoise! Felipe’s boyfriend Tom joined us and we spent the rest of the evening drinking caprhinas and sampling food off the menu including ‘Tilápia fish strips’ which were stunning. Felipe was extremely welcoming – we spent the rest of the week with him, and understandably, I ate at Casa do João for the rest of my stay in Bonito!