Traveling for Food: Pizza in Brazil
Brazilian cuisine is known for the seemingly endless meat offerings that are served rodizio-style (unlimited food at a fixed price) at its renowned churrascarias. But meat is not the only food in Brazil served in this style. In many places, rodizio has been adapted to one of the country’s favorite cheap snacks: pizza. In Brasília, the country’s Epcot-like capital, Pizza à Bessa is the pizza spot.
There are four Pizza à Bessa locations, but the branch that opened in Asa Sul in June 2006 is in an area with other good restaurant options. Settle in, R$23.90 (about $13) gets you as many slices as you can possibly stomach. It’s half price for children aged 5 to 9 and free for anyone younger.
Waiters fly from the kitchen and do circuits around the dining room, each one carrying a tray with a different type of pizza. You’ll frequently find yourself with three different slices on your plate. When it comes to getting your money’s worth, as at any rodizio, pacing is key. But part of the fun (besides downing caipirinhas) is the twofold food challenge you face: first, seeing how many slices you can eat and second, attempting to sample each of the 30 to 40 different kinds of pizza. (The slice count on our visit? 25.)
Pizza à Bessa serves conventional pizza, but Brazilians use all kinds of unexpected ingredients and toppings — at any one point your plate is likely to resemble a Midwestern potluck. Some toppings you’ll find include: carne de sol, Catupiry (Brazilian cream cheese), mustard, purê de batatas (mashed potatoes), corn, tuna, cassava, and Potato Sticks. Purists, be warned — while the menu says that many slices feature tomato sauce (molho de tomate), its application is light. The best slices tend to be the ones featuring very creamy Brazilian cheese, and enjoying the experience is mostly about the novelty of unexpected textures and combinations.
There are also a number of incredibly sweet dessert pizzas: sorvete e calda de chocolate (ice cream and chocolate syrup), maçã (apple), and mel (honey) among others.
Address: CLS Quadra 214, Bloco C, Loja 40, Setor Comércio Local Sul, Brasília, Brazil
(All photos courtesy of Arthur Bovino)