First Taste: Andino Peruvian Restaurant & Tapas Bar
Peruvian food extends its reach by baby steps with a first restaurant in Mamaroneck.
Jalea consists of fried seafood including mussels, calamari, and tilapia with yucca sticks and red onion salad.
I’m excited to see a Peruvian restaurant open anywhere new in Westchester. This under-the-radar cuisine is well worth exploring, and home base has generally been Port Chester, with enough Peruvian restaurants for some to specialize: Pollo a la Brasa Misti (rotisserie chicken with ají sauce, done just right), Acuario (killer ceviche, tiradito, and seafood stews such as pescado a lo macho). Now Mamaroneck has its first, Andino Peruvian Restaurant & Tapas Bar, replacing Mexican restaurant Gusano Loco, a slightly down-at-the-heels joint across from Starbucks that was home to a numbing Margarita, greasy nachos, and spirited conversation around the TV at the bar.
Jalea consists of fried seafood including mussels, calamari, and tilapia with yucca sticks and red onion salad
Chef/Owner Renan Maldonado’s renovation preserves the layout: welcoming square bar with a handful of beer taps (usual big-name suspects, plus Captain Lawrence), front tables now lit by hanging Edison bulbs, side room featuring conversation-sparking photos of Peru (“Is that an Andean mountain cat?"). I happened to walk by as they were preparing for opening night and grabbed a takeout menu, which doesn’t include tapas, so we were glad to find a small selection, a mix of items both familiar (coconut shrimp, grilled steak, mozzarella sticks) and less so, such as leche de tigre ceviche (whose “tiger’s milk” marinade is a reputed aphrodisiac), fried yucca with Huancaína cheese sauce, and tequeños, cheese-stuffed fried pastry rolls served with guacamole-like dip. We loved those, but they could have been hotter and crisper. Ditto for our main course, jalea, that delightful conglomeration of fried seafood, with mussels, calamari, and tilapia tucked in with yuca sticks and red onion salad. Papa a la Huancaína, the traditional appetizer of potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, and olives draped with the cheesy sauce, bore slightly wilted lettuce. But the place just opened, so we’ll give them time to work out the kinks. Steaming hot bread with ají pepper sauce we couldn’t get enough of (and butter) had already done much to win us over.
Papa a la Huancaina: A traditional appetizer of potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, and olives draped with cheesy sauce
The best item of the evening may well have been the Pisco Sour (which I first tried at a hotel bar in Lima), and coupons in the neighborhood are touting a free glass of sangria on your first visit. Signs point to a healthy bar scene, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some old Gusano Loco regulars taking a sudden interest in Peruvian food.
Asian-influenced dishes pervade the cuisine (as a result of immigration) and are here for the trying: Chinese-style (Chifa) chicken-fried rice, lo-mein-like tallarin (spaghetti) with basil sauce, beef stir-fry lomo saltado. Other staples include chupe (shrimp or fish soup with a floating slice of corn on the cob); salchipapas, a street food of sliced hot dog over french fries (on the children’s menu); grilled items aplenty; and the classic beef heart appetizer, anticuchos. (One thing you will not find: cuy, or guinea pig, which only one friend on my trip to Peru was curious enough to order; he said it tasted like chicken). Especially delicious flan (not house-made, but made by someone somewhere) disappeared in a flash, as did delicate alfajores (dulce de leche cookie sandwiches).
Andino Peruvian Restaurant & Tapas Bar
1137 W Boston Post Rd