After a traumatic Fat Tuesday in college (read: a whole day spent in the clutches of a killer hangover), I swore off the holiday for life. There were to be no more days celebrating the beaded, bourbon-fueled, debaucherous holiday that is Mardi Gras.
My poor liver just couldn’t take it—that was until I received Becca’s invitation to join her at Piola’s annual Carnival party. Perhaps Brazil’s Carnival would show me something that New Orleans’ Fat Tuesday could not.
Different holiday, different results.
The invitation promised a night of unforgettable fun set to the sound of live Brazilian music. How could I possibly say no to that; especially since I had dined at the eatery several times and loved the food so?
I forsook my long appointed resolution, grabbed my best Bitch, and headed to Piola’s Rosslyn, Virginia, location.
The restaurant (and its patrons) were dressed to the nines in purple, gold, and green decorations and party flair. Some customers were even clad head-to-toe in sequined ensembles complete with feather headdresses.
I had a difficult time finding Becca and her crew as they were donning feathered masks and sparkly hats, but of course once we did find them, we demanded that we too be fitted in Mardi Gras attire.
It wasn’t long before the bubbly started flowing, the band started playing, and the patrons started dancing. The band, GiGi & Co., was amazing and had us all shimmying in our seats and some of us infiltrating the dance floor in no time.
Jihane, the adorable, petite owner stopped by our table to give us a quick hello and mentioned in passing that the eatery has been keeping this tradition alive for eight years now. Regulars and newcomers alike delight in the festivities year after year and, having attended, I can see why it is such an anticipated event.
Why Carnival and not Mardi Gras? Piola has a very strong presence in Brazil with seven locations, and so Piola started celebrating the Carnival of Rio and took the tradition to its other locations worldwide.
It’s also the reason why the menu is influenced by Brazilian flavors and includes some Brazilian ingredients such as the catupiry cheese and farofa doce and also Brazilian drinks like the caipirinha made of cachaca (the most popular drink in Brazil) and caipiroskas.
It might be too late this year to get in on the fun, but look forward to next year, come Carnival. If you just can’t wait to down bottles of bubbly and take in the eatery’s great atmosphere, we’d highly recommend the bottomless brunch. Endless pizza and booze for a mere $35, what more could a Bitch want?
PS. Saturday is International Women’s Day, and both Piola locations— in D.C. and Rosslyn—are celebrating with special events just for us ladies. Fabulous, empowered women will get specials all night, including wine or beer for only $2.95 a glass. A portion of proceeds from the restaurant and bar between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. Saturday night will be donated to the YWCA Capital Area. Don’t miss it!