On Friday night, Martha and Nick took me to dinner, and it was a new spot among St. John's restaurants: Rio Brazilian Restaurant, on Torbay Road. It's on the intersection with Newfoundland Drive, taking up the space of a former Pizza Exprerts restaurant.
It's an interesting concept: you're seated at a table and invited to check out the salad bar (which also features, oddly enough, chicken nuggets, I guess for families with young kids) before the main event happens. Everyone pays about $27 for a meal (except for drinks desserts), and you can keep the food coming until you turn the green card on your table over, and leave the red side facing up: the visual cue to the staff that you've had enough.
Every few minutes, a server comes by with a long, two-pronged barbecue stick with a type of meat. It may be sirloin, it may be pork ribs, it may be chicken wings. If you want some, they'll off a slice ... or two, or three. It's an all-you-can-eat affair, so no one's judging. We loved the lamb, and had different preferences for other things, like sausages and beef ribs. Martha was delighted to have cod and shrimp offered up. My seafood allergies, of course, had me choosing sirloin and lamb.
There's more to choose from, too: barbecued pineapple, which we liked, and grapefruit and banana given the same treatment, which didn't catch my fancy. We also waited a bit for some of the All the same, it's a fun way to eat, especially with a group; we noticed a number of tables were quite enjoying themselves.
Rio does not offer fine dining, so expectations need to be in check. As well, if you're not hungry or only need an appetizer, this is not the place to come. But for a night out with the family and/or friends, I'd recommend it. We didn't feel rushed, and we enjoyed a night of food and conversation.
It's also nice to see a new alternative in the city for restaurant choices, especially one that's in walking distance of our neighbourhood.