25 Jun Picca Peru – One Year and Going Strong
The 2011 hottest new restaurant in LA still holds the title one year from the date of opening. Picca, which means “to nibble,” is home to Chef Ricardo Zarate’s modern Peruvian cuisine with a Japanese flair. Picca is about the food and the flavors; it is traditional Peruvian street food elevated to fine dining. With the menu written on the walls, the restaurant is modern, vibrant and casual. From the chefs working at the ceviche bar to the bartenders mixing fresh cocktails at the bar to the full room of diners, the energy is electric and a great dining experience.
Let’s start with the cocktails, created by award winning mixologist Julian Cox who oversees the bar programs at Picca, Sotto, Playa and Rivera. The bar is filled only with spirits from South and Latin Americas, such as Rum, Tequila and Pisco (the national spirit of Peru). The cocktail menu includes a description of the ingredients in each cocktail so that you know how they are made.
We started our night off with two colorful and creative drinks:
The Avocado Project (avocado, agave nectar, lime juice and 5 island white rum, shaken, double strained, and finished with salt)
Martin Rickety (grapefruit juice, wine juice, peychaud bitters, pisco, topped with strawberry air)
The wine list also features wines almost exclusively from Chile, Spain and Argentina, with most wines offered by the glass. We enjoyed a bottle of Licia 2010 Albarino, Rias Baizas, Spain, a vibrant, crisp wine with aromas of grapefruit, lemon, green apples, fresh herbs, and minerality.
With drink orders taken care of, it was time to tackle the menu. While this wasn’t my first, or second, time at Picca, I am still continually intrigued by the vast, but succinct, menu which offers 50 refined Peruvian dishes designed to be passed around the table. Served tapas style, the menu features a selection of ceviches (made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices), causas (mashed potatoes with a variety of toppings) and anticuchos (small pieces of grilled skewered meat).
The best way to enjoy the vast menu is to dine with a group of friends so that you can try as many small dishes as possible. As we were four on this recent outing, we let our server select the dishes for us and in the end, we enjoyed 14 dishes.
Seabass Tiradito (thinly-sliced seabass, soy-lime dressing, sesame oil, sweet potato puree). Tiradito means “to lie down.”
Choritos (steamed black mussels, applewood smoked bacon, aji amarillo butter)
Ceviche Criollo (seabass, rocoto leche de tigre, chocio, sweet potato)
Albacore Ceviche (albacore, leche de tigre)
Santa Barbara Prawns (yuzo sauce)
Causa Spicy Yellowtail (wasabi tobiko, spicy mayonnaise, puffed rice, green onion, cucumber)
Causa Unagi (eel sauce, yuzo kosho guacamole, cucumber)
Anticucho Tomatoes (burrata, black mint pesto)
Anticucho Diver Scallops (aji amarillo aioli, wasabi peas)
Anticucho Black Cod (miso anticucho, crispy sweet potato)
Eggplant (honey glazed on the robata grill)
Bisteck a lo Pobre (skirt steak, fried egg, pan fried banana, chickpeas tacu tacu)