Public success, Mercado Novo expands activities to third floor

Vegetarian beauty entrepreneur Natalia Cruz visits the new floor of Mercado Novo at least once every 15 days:
Vegetarian beauty entrepreneur Natalia Cruz visits the new floor of Mercado Novo at least once every 15 days: “I arrive earlier and eat seated, comfortably. (photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

A buzz, a boil, a buzz. If you imagine this when you think of Mercado Novo, know that there is also an oasis of calm there. Lie. Tranquility may be too strong a word, but it is much quieter there than on the second floor, where the hip crowd takes care of the corridors every other day. It is the third floor, which has been occupying its space in the complex, located in the center since the end of last year. The area, where the Butterfly Market project once operated, was completely deserted. Confronted with the overcrowding of the second floor, however, renovating and using this space was the obvious choice. “It’s a different logic than what already existed in the Market. Here we have a different footprint of housing art, fashion, beauty and well-being,” explains Luiz Castro, curator of the expansion project. In terms of gastronomy, Luiz says, the main idea is to have a dining area with limited options, but with comfort for those who don’t like the “standing food and drink” model or even want to throw a small party.

With names from famous designers like Ronaldo Fraga and Rogério Lima, the art galleries, clothing stores and even a boxing gym share space with a 204-seat food court spread over tables and counters. With high ceilings and natural lighting, the third floor has a large and ventilated space. And that’s exactly what has attracted people like beauty entrepreneur Natalia Cruz, who goes there at least every 15 days. “I arrive early and eat comfortably seated,” says she, who is a vegetarian. “I’m not short of options here and one is better than the other.”

The market manager, Antônio Gabriel de Castro, between his grandson Luiz Castro and son Gabriel:
Market manager Antônio Gabriel de Castro, between grandson Luiz Castro and son Gabriel: “I’m very proud to see this place grow like this. I didn’t expect to get this far” (photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

“It’s amazing,” writes the manager of the Market, Antônio Gabriel de Castro, 92 years old. “Every kind of food you want can be found in the market,” he celebrates, ordering a Texan-style craft beer and barbecue served at the Coal Bar-b-que Market. “I’m very proud to see this place grow so much. I didn’t expect to get to this point,” he adds. Mr. Gabriel, as he is known, has been there since the 1970s. He is a co-owner of Rege S/C, the largest real estate company on the market, which owns almost 70% of the stores. Today he shares the management of the company with his son, the Inspector Gabriel, and with his grandson Luiz Castro, the curator of the expansion. “Of the 300 stores, 40% are already occupied. 95% are rented out and are just being renovated,” explains Luiz.

However, the gastronomic part is already defined. The idea is to keep only the seven already established companies. To reach these establishments, the management rule was the same that has been used since the rebirth of the second floor, in 2019: each company has a very specific proposal and must be different from its neighbor. And this is what happens in practice, to satisfy both Natalia, a vegetarian, and Gabriel, an outspoken carnivore.

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

Vegan sushi? Yes he has! The place has already become one of the most popular on the third floor. The restaurant is a creation of the couple Luiz Gustavo Neves Costa and Ana Clara Souza de Oliveira. Passionate about Japanese cuisine, they found few options in the market for vegetarians and vegans. So they started doing some experiments in the kitchen at home and it worked. At the start of the pandemic, some friends started placing orders and the company took off. It was a leap from delivery to the physical unit. And today, the bomb house. The quality of the sandwiches is really impressive and the cashew cream cheese is a gastronomic gem. The pieces are prepared on a counter in full view of the customers. Under the Gunkan, don’t miss the one with carrots with leeks, cashew cream cheese and crushed cashew nuts; and the cabbage with red pepper jelly. The combination with 16 pieces with 4 variants costs 48 reais. Among the temakis, the shimeji tartare with crispy onion costs 26 reais.

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

One of the things that Marília Balzani, a member of Café Magrí, heard the most until recently was: I tried to go there, but the line was too long. In the old cafeteria address, in Lourdes, the maximum occupancy was 14 people, now, in Mercado Novo, it has 200 places at its disposal. “Because we only work on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we have the whole food court in front of us. And it’s full,” Marília celebrates. Another old plan that was put into practice is the “Brunch every day, every time”, that is, you can order a mix of breakfast and lunch at any time. The most popular is the Dalí (R$24), which has scrambled eggs with naturally fermented toast and D’Alagoa cheese fondue. For the same price you can try the Frida, a minty version of the croque madame: a miga bread sandwich filled with cottage cheese, topped with bechamel, fried free-range egg and paprika and sumac spices. With the change of address, chef Rafael Brito initially chose not to make any major changes to the menu. Quite the opposite. After a poll on social networks, they chose Magrí’s classics, all of which are on the menu.

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

Specializing in American barbecue, the right destination for meat lovers in Jardim Canada, the house opened a new unit on the third floor of Mercado Novo in December. The brand’s motto is to spread the Texas barbecue culture and offer the usual cuts in the United States. The establishment uses the smoked barbecue technique, in which the pieces are roasted at a low temperature for a long time. “The market audience is different and very loyal,” says partner Rodrigo Victor Leite. He says the potato portions are his favorites and come in three versions: fries, cheddar, and homemade bacon (R$25); French fries, lemon mayonnaise and shredded brisket – smoked beef brisket for 15 hours (R$31); and fries, lemon mayonnaise and pulled pork – 15 hour smoked pork shoulder (R$28). The smash-style sandwich (flat on the plate) is also hors concours. For 25 reais it is prepared on brioche bread, pulled pork, Canastra cream cheese, pickles, red onion and guava BBQ.

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

With a vegetarian menu – and some vegan options – the restaurant is run by Chef Marcela Guerra. “We were one of the first to open on the third floor,” she says, who previously only worked with delivery. With the fully open kitchen and a large counter, the intention is that customers can participate in the preparation of dishes, as if they were at a friend’s house. The toasts eventually caught the eye of the parish and became the stars of the menu. Among the most requested are mushrooms, Sicilian lemon cream, black pepper and mushroom antipasto; Uaizetona, olive tapenade and honey fermented with garlic; and Jeitim de cheesecake, cream cheese mousse, red fruit jelly and fresh basil (R$8 each). The taste of homemade cakes varies daily and the slice costs 6 reais. With more substance, Mandiró is a good option, a creamy cassava pie with leeks (R$28).

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

As the name implies, rice is the mandatory ingredient in all dishes at the establishment. The kitchen is led by Leandro Henrique and the menu is drawn by chef Yves Saliba. In the menu there are seven options. Of the entrees, the rice leaf rolls with leeks, caramelized bacon and sweet and sour sauce (R$25) are the most requested. In the main category, the Arroz de Pescador (R$40), with squid, mussels and prawns, shares the clientele’s preference with the Arroz stock with spare ribs (R$30), with pumpkin cream and coconut farofa. There is also the good old Galinhada (R$30). Since it just opened, the shop is not fully assembled yet. In the future, visitors will be able to purchase products made with rice, such as paper, moisturizer, and even soap. Another proposal is to sell the grains in bulk.

Drink

(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)
(photo: Paulo Márcio/Meeting)

Beer for those who drink and drinks for those who drink. For drinks, the food court has Do Terceiro Chopperia (@doterceiro), with options from the Minas Gerais brewery CapaPreta in two sizes, 300 and 500 ml. Values ​​range from 8 to 25 reais. From April, the house will have a guest brewery every month. Across the hall is Margô Drinkeria. The movement doesn’t stop there. To give you an idea, over 1,500 cocktails a day are sold on Saturdays and Sundays, 200 of which are Florianos – gin, tangerine and tangerine foam (R$28). There are five mixologists and bartenders, including Danielle Cristina Nunes, who work simultaneously and non-stop to serve the crowd that is thirsty for good cocktails. Some of the classics available are the Mojito (R$28) and the Negroni (R$24).

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