After toasting their first year of success in spring, Carla Batista and Gustavo Nogueira of Batuqui
once again tripled their popular restaurant's capacity by reopening the lively patio space behind their Brazilian bistro, which is housed in a restored Victorian home on Larchmere Boulevard. Now with the summer months quickly winding down and an opportunity popping up in the neighborhood, the driving force behind Batuqui is expanding in yet another way with a venture that will bring even more of Brazil to the eclectic East Side neighborhood.
When the couple learned of a vacancy down the street alongside Big Al’s diner, they knew it was an ideal location to expand offerings to existing clients while giving residents of the Larchmere neighborhood much-needed access to fresh foods.
Slated to open next month at 12602 Larchmere Blvd., Ipanema Market
will feature a carefully chosen assortment of Brazilian and Portuguese imports amid seasonal products from area farmers, butchers, and cheese makers. Palma Louca and Xingu beers from Brazil will be available for carryout. With their wine license pending, future plans include a section of South American varietals perfect for pairing with Brazilian cheeses like queijo prato
and queijo Minas
The centerpiece of the 1,000-square-foot space is a four-top table facing a counter that will serve grab-and-go foods much like the lanchonetes
along the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro. Those in search of a casual bite will find a selection of fresh-made juices and handmade salgadinho
appetizers similar to those on the Batuqui menu.
“We’ll also be making popular dishes like slices of empadão de frango
,” Nogueira says, describing the Brazilian spin on pot pie: tomato-seasoned shredded chicken laced with onions and green olives, then topped with a glistening egg-washed, buttery crust.
Batista, who painstakingly designed Batuqui with artisan wares she gathered in Rio and her native Bahia, says clients often mention how much they would like a slice of that authentic décor for their own homes. Now they needn’t travel any further than a couple of blocks to find art and accessories curated by Carlinha
herself. During a sneak peek of the space amid the renovations, she displayed a market tote she’ll be selling from Salvador, hand-woven from palm leaves by a co-op of indigenous women she met on a recent trip.
Much of Batuqui’s success can be attributed to Batista’s prowess as a hostess and the couple’s strong roots in the local Brazilian community – most recently as a sponsor for the Brazilian section in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Parade the Circle
centennial celebration this past June.
Carla Batista and Gustavo Nogueira of Ipanema Market
Those connections surely aren't limited to parades. Since the restaurant’s inception, many of their closest friends have eagerly pitched in behind the scenes, including another couple - Matt Quinn, originally from Portland, and Artur Fulan, who was born in São Manuel in the state of São Paulo, a few hours outside of Brazil's most populous city.
Fulan and Batista met more than a dozen years ago through a mutual friend – Adriana Matos, co-founder of the Tropical Cleveland
Latin dance parties. Around the same time, other friends urged him to apply for work at Brasa Grill
, the venerable churrascaria
steakhouse in the Warehouse District downtown. After earning a degree in hospitality management and spending 18 fast-paced months with Marriott, a serving post at the rodizio
-style restaurant was a welcome change and an opportunity for him and Batista to cross paths frequently, both personally and professionally. He has since teamed up with shape wear creator Heather Thomson and is now director of sourcing and production for her company Yummie
Nonetheless, Fulan made time to help out with Batuqui's development, honing the hospitality and menu development while Quinn, a graphic designer, was instrumental in designing the upscale eatery's menu and logo. When the opportunity to expand arose, the foursome incorporated, marrying their respective talents to make the Ipanema Market a reality.
With Batista at the helm handling “the vibe and customer service,” Fulan says he’s excited to manage “the business side of things, building partnerships with local purveyors.” It's a connection he doesn't take lightly. In Brazil farm-to-table is more than marketing jargon. It's the mainstay of eating, much more ingrained than a movement. Even in urban areas, mass-produced processed foods are still the minority, and livestock are free-range and grass-fed not because it’s trendy, but because it’s a way of life.
Batista can’t wait to finally offer Brazilians and Clevelanders alike a taste of the comfort foods she grew up with, much of which has been elusive in the area until now, including requeijão
(creamy spreadable cheese), carne-de-sol
(sun-cured salted beef originated from Northeast Brazil) and goma de tapioca
(a hydrated tapioca flour used to make sweet and savory, gluten-free turnovers similar to soft tacos).
“With the spotlight shining so brightly on Cleveland and Brazil these days," adds Fulan, there’s never been a better time to create a place where people can find the best of both worlds.”