One of Rio’s loveliest avenues is the corridor of vast palms that parades through the botanical gardens – a tranquil walk that leads to a particularly Brazilian culinary pleasure. Leave the garden, cross the road, dog-leg up the first side street, and you’ll find yourself at Volta.
With its doors thrown open and only a few tables on its terrace, Volta is deliberately homely. It harks back to the 1950s, with touches of Formica in the decor and a menu mined from the almanacs and notebooks of cooks gone by. Always on offer, though, is the humble coxinha de galinha. A staple Brazilian snack, coxinha – meaning chicken thigh or drumstick – was traditionally sold outside the 19th-century factories of São Paulo. Its usual manifestation is a dense, unwieldy dollop of dough and breadcrumbs, filled with shredded chicken and eaten on the street.
Here, however, like fallen forbidden fruit, two crisp golden balls are presented on a plate, with a delicate baked chicken bone poking from each one like an apple stalk. Slip a knife along the bone, crack open the casing and there’s nothing fancy to see: just a little tomato, parsley, onion and garlic packed in with the meat. But two twists make Volta’s version stand out: dough wetted with chicken broth and a covering of light Pinko breadcrumbs for flavour and crunch.
Each bite is like a flip-book of texture. First comes a silky thread of delicate cremoso Minas cheese, followed by sharp, hot, popping breadcrumbs. Next is damp, pillowy dough mingled with brothy shreds of chicken. A slick of pimenta oil signs off the mouthful, as all the while a whiff of the baked chicken of childhood spools around. And all that’s left are two little chicken bones, knocking quietly together in the corner of an empty plate. ~ GEORGIA GRIMOND
R$18 (£3.70); restaurantevolta.com.br