Brazil is one of the most difficult countries to find a proper vegetarian restaurant. Most Brazilians love a diet rich with meat and cheese; only a very small percentage are vegetarians. Given these circumstances, it came as somewhat of a surprise that while I was in Salvador, the populous capital city of Bahia in Northeastern Brazil, that I stumbled onto Ramma , a delightful natural foods restaurant.
Located in the fashionable beachside suburb of Barra, Ramma is open for lunch only every day of the week excluding Saturday. All the food is offered buffet style with costing done a per kilo basis, a popular format in many Brazilian Restaurants. You can eat as much as you want - your bill will be based on how much food you put on your plate(s). The cost per kilo is R$33,90 in the week, and R$35,90 on Sundays.
According to the owner, the average customer spends about R$17,00 – 18,00 (roughly $10USD) on a meal
For a buffet, the food is absolutely delicious and healthfully prepared with a staggering variety of dishes to choose from including fresh salads, grilled veggies, tofu entrees, quiches, homemade breads and pastries. In addition to the vegetarian dishes, there is at least one chicken and fish entree to choose from as well.
I went there on a busy Sunday afternoon in early June and the place was filled to capacity – most of the clientele were locals from Salvador in addition to a smattering of Brazilian and oversea tourists.
Ramma reflects the personality and philosophy of the owner, Ms. Marinna Neves, a middle aged Brazilian lady who was born in the state of Bahia. As a teenager in 1970, she moved with her family to Salvador where she worked as a civil engineer for 18 years before becoming a restaurateur with the opening of Ramma in January 1994.
Admittedly she has always been a food lover – even as a child - and cooking has always been a passion for her. Over the years, she has becoming increasingly health conscious, moving towards a more vegetarian life style. Getting into the restaurant business was a natural for her.
Ms. Neves describes herself as 90% vegetarian as she eats some chicken and fish occasionally. Over the last couple of years, Marina’s diet has continued to evolve with an increasing emphasis of raw foods – you’ll even find some tasty raw food selections at Ramma.
Note: A second RAMMA restaurant opened up in August 2008 in Pelurinho, the historical quarter of Salvador
As a vegetarian, Ramma has to rank as “the best” restaurant for vegetarian food that I have ever been to. I could eat there every day if I had to – the food is that delicious and is healthfully prepared as well.