Belcanto, the classic restaurant in Lisbon’s Chaido district, has been reborn. In the last 50 years, the space was a late night gathering place for artists and opera patrons who frequented the nearby St. Charles theatre. In the afternoons, Belcanto was a “gentleman’s club” where dancing girls performed on a small stage. But now, Belcanto gone through a major renovation and is now a showcase for one of Portugal’s most exciting chefs, José Avillez.
Most Portuguese know Avillez as the Michelin star chef from Lisbon’s oldest and grandest restaurant Tavares. Many also know he has an impressive CV, having worked in kitchens alongside gastronomic superstars Ferran Adria, Eric Frechon and Alain Ducasse. Early in 2011, Avillez set out to build his own epicurean empire with the opening of O Cantinho do Avillez, and now the highly-anticipated Belcanto.
For the new Belcanto, Avillez recruited the talents of architect Ana Anahory and interior designer Felipa Almeida. Together they create a formal and sophisticated space, using that heavy wood paneling, leather seating and clean lines, without an air of pretension.
A subtle, yet interesting, feature of the room is the wall of bookshelves. Take another look. This is a clever art installation by Joana Astolfi, rather than a library. Strategically-positioned books outline a verse from Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (Para ser grande, sê inteiro).
As for the menu, fans of Avillez who remember his work at Tavares will remain pleased. At Belcanto, he revives such favorites as A Horta da Galinha dos Ovos de Ouro (“Golden Eggs” prepared with crispy bread and mushrooms), Mergulho no Mar (“Sea Diving” with sea bass, seaweed and shellfish) and Paisagem Alentejana (specially-prepared pigs’ feet in corriander).
Yet, those hoping to be impressed by Avillez’ innovations will not be disappointed. Most menu items at Belcanto are new creations. Impressive appetizers include: marinated and braised mackerel, with vinegary vegetable confetti and pinhão; and, cream of partridge, partridge escabeche and vegetables. Avillez also works his magic producing variations on lamb, beef, veal, crab, lobster and ray. Portuguese will be delighted with his açorda de bacalhau (salted cod) with egg BT.
Three course dinners will run around €65 per person (starters about €19, main courses €30 and desserts €12). There are two set menus at €55 (three courses) and 72.50 (six dishes). For lunch, select a main course and dessert for €27.50; add a dessert for €35.
Learn more about José Avillez at his website.
Largo de São Carlos, 10
Phone: +351 213 420 607
Tuesday through Saturday
Lunch – 12:30 to 15:00
Dinner – 19:30 to 23:00
Aberto de terça a sábado.
Closed Sunday & Monday