I first tried the delicious Peruvian flavors of Chef Ricardo Zarate in 2009 when he opened Mo-Chica inside Mercado La Paloma in Downtown Los Angeles. I last saw him in 2015 when his first book, entitled The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from My Peruvian Kitchen, was released and he was hosting a Peruvian pop-up called Once (on-seh) in Venice. And, lucky for Los Angelenos, he is back with the opening of his new restaurant Rosaliné, Please The Palate's "pick of the week."
Rosaliné, named after his mother, is located in the former Comme Ca space on Melrose and La Cienega. The restaurant is slated to open in mid-June but I was fortunate to get a sneak peak this past week at the final LA Food Bowl Hanging with Harris dinner and Santa Barbara County Wines, raising money for No Kid Hungry.
I remember when Mo-chica first opened in the La Paloma Mercado near USC. It was a rather unique experience to go to Mo-chica. It was located in a super mercado where you could buy your quincinera dress, your Lakers shirt or select from the food court offerings. And there in a very unassuming position sat Mo-chica, next to a row of other food stations.
Despite the lack of asthetic appeal, the food was delicious. Chef Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian comfort food with a modern twist included Arroz con Marisco, Lomo Saltado, Oxtail Risotto, Seco de Cordero and Ceviche Mixto, all at very affordable prices. Now the original Mo-chica has closed and moved to a new, larger, more central location in Downtown LA. No longer in a food court, Mo-chica is a modern Peruvian eatery that offers many of the original dishes as well as new dishes that are similar to what can be found on the always-popular sister restaurant Picca in Beverly Hills.
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.