July 31st, 2010. jenn hearts nyc: pio pio peruvian restaurant!
For a good month and a half I started to plan a trip to every girl’s dream city: NYC! With limited days off, I was determined to make this summer count by making the most of a long weekend. True, slightly less than 72 hours is NOT enough time to get the full experience…but I was willing to be flexible with my activities. I really just needed to get away from here and go somewhere where I could get lost, be enchanted, and eat!
As soon as I arrived at JFK I got my stuff, breezed through customs and grabbed a taxi to Manhattan. I had made reservations at The Distrikt Hotel, a brand new boutique hotel situated on West 40th and 9th Avenue in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I arrived early in the morning, and my check in time wasn’t til 3pm. Luckily when I arrived they had a room available for early check in right away so I was able to go straight upstairs. Because I hadn’t slept at all on my flight I forced myself to take a short 1hour nap so that I would be able to recharge my body somewhat for the packed day and evening ahead!
After the nap I immediately hit the streets. I walked a few blocks and found myself smack in Times Square! WOW! It’s like Times Square in and of itself is a mini neighborhood. It’s alive 24/7! Everywhere you turn you get bombarded with colors, advertisements, entertainment, pizzaz, people, personalities….such a whirlwind of sight and sound!
At length I wandered off to another part of the city to find some lunch. A friend had recommended a Peruvian place for the ceviche so I made it my mission to find it. On my way I walked through the Theater District. I enjoyed walking through a more residential area. It’s amazing how just within a few blocks of each other you get these parts of the city that are so unique and have their own distinct personality and vibe.
Pio Pio– I absolutely loved this place! From the outside it’s extremely unassuming and looks quite small, but as soon as you walk inside you’re transported into this lovely, open space! The ground level is actually the upper level with the front being a narrow hall with a bar to one side, more small tables. The kicker is how the space opens up to the lower level where larger parties can be sat. The restaurant uses raw elements like sticks, brick and stone in a completely modern loft-like way!!
Being that it is Peruvian cuisine I was recommended to have the ceviche, so i opted for the Mixto Ceviche which is a traditional Peruvian seafood ceviche with Corvina, Octopus, Calamari, Baby Scallops, Shrimp, Lime Juice and Rocoto Pepper. The ceviche was insanely fresh and packed with flavor. The lime juice in the ceviche was pronounced but I could still taste the delicate flavors of each of the seafood items. The only drawback was that I felt that the red onions on top were over powering. The ceviche came with a bowl of some sort of amazingly spicy and yummy hot sauce a spoonful of seasoned “corn nuts”, some giant white corn and a round of candied yam as well as puree. Oh, baby, baby BABY! That yam was heavenly!
So, this “green sauce” or “aji verde” that Pio Pio is popular for, supposedly the recipe is top secret! From what I can gather from fellow Chowhounds, along with aji peppers, the sauce may or may not contain cilantro, parsley and garlic. But I have it on good authority that it does have black mint, or huacataya, in it! A generous helping of it came in a little side bowl for me to dip my food in.
I was positively having a foodgasm in my own little corner of the restaurant! I swear..the staff were probably laughing at the asian girl taking pictures, smiling, purring and eating happily by herself