Off the Beaten Path

Just outside Rio

The Brazilian countryside is not the first place one would expect to find a bottle of '82 Château Margaux. But at Locanda della Mimosa, the restaurant-with-rooms owned by Danio and Lilian Braga about an hour from Rio de Janeiro, wine holds a place of honor (the 10,000-bottle cellar sits under the pool). The Locanda has become a hot spot for Rio residents, who come for Danio's superb Italian cooking (he's from Italy). On our visit, the entire menu was variations on the theme of eggplant. It showed up in dishes like gnocchi with smoked salmon and purple ice cream with honey gelée and a delicate yogurt sauce. Like the place itself, everything here is a pleasant surprise: the Brazilian Cabernet Sauvignon; the six elegant rooms, each named for a local flower (rose, hydrangea), with colored toile to match; and the availability of a helipad. The Locanda is, after all, expensive for locals. But it's worth a trip no matter the cost. Rates, $140; dinner, $70. At 30 Alameda das Mimosas, Vale Florido, Petrópolis; 55-24/2233-5405;

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite. Restaurant prices reflect a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverages and gratuity.