Victoria and Luis Gaspar sought to introduce Atlantic Canada to new types of world cuisine by filling the menu at Pipa Restaurant + Bar with iconic Brazilian and Portuguese dishes. This distinctiveness helped earn it a spot on Where magazine's 2009 list of Canada's best new restaurants, as well as praise from Halifax Magazine, which has lauded the restaurant for being "something different on the downtown dining scene."
The menu items' names may seem unfamiliar at first, but the flavours evoke a certain homey quality. The mains include hearty Brazilian stews such as feijoada, a blend of smoked meats and black beans that bears the honor of being Brazil's national dish. Appetizers incorporate Portuguese staples such as chouriço sausage and salt cod. The wine list complements these robust flavors with its selection of Portuguese wines, including crisp vinho verdes and bold reds from the Douro region's subterranean reservoirs of grape juice.
Located within the historic Carleton building, which dates as far back as 1759, the restaurant combines modern and Old-World ambience, garnering the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia's award for Best Design & Decor in 2010. Fireplaces and floorboards from reclaimed timber add a rustic vibe to the two dining rooms, but the atrium gets a bright, airy feel from its glass pyramid ceiling. Throughout the week, Pipa Restaurant + Bar hosts live Latin jazz or bossa nova bands, and salsa-dancing events help attendees pick up the dance's basic steps and competition-level hair tosses.