Empanadas de Pollo (Chicken Empanadas)
Top Plate: Mero Norteño | Bottom Plate: Camarones Cuzco | Aji Verde Sauce (Peruvian Green Chili Sauce)
My second time visiting Peruvian restaurant, Pio Pio, was a far greater experience than my first! Not that my first “so-so” visit was Pio Pio’s fault; the food was still good. The fault was mine that I ordered a family-style platter featuring a main entree of chicken to share with a friend. I usually never order chicken-anything at a restaurant.
So, you may want to revoke my “Black card” after reading this next sentence.
I’m not the biggest fan of chicken.
I can eat it, but do I ever crave it? No. Plus, watching me eat chicken should be a crime. I pick at it, leave a lot of meat behind, shudder if I come across fat. There’s just a lot going on at my end of the table. So, especially because I prefer fried chicken over baked chicken, ordering such a large quantity of rotisserie-style chicken on my first visit wasn’t a great idea.
About Pio Pio
On both occasions, I visited Pio Pio’s Hell’s Kitchen location (near 42nd St./Times Square). The decor of this place is amazing! Excuse me for not taking a picture. I’ll do better. Additionally, this location seems to offer a lot more food than Pio Pio’s other venues.
The atmosphere is a bit loud since they’re so busy. You can only faintly hear the music through the speakers. And you may become slightly hoarse from screaming to your date.
Working on a rating system of “Like, Love, Dislike, and Hate”, let’s talk…
About The Food
◊ Pisco Punch: Love.
Tastes like “green apple” candy, sweet, not too strong (just how I like my drinks).
◊ Red Sangria: Like.
Normal sangria, not too sweet, pretty strong!
◊ Aji Verde Sauce (Peruvian Green Chili Sauce): Love.
Really spicy! & I love spicy anything.
◊ Empanadas de Pollo (Chicken Empanadas): Love.
Great flavor, large portions of meat, dripping with oil BUT really good.
◊ Maduros (Plantain): Hate.
Plantains weren’t soft like I’m accustomed to maduros being. If I wanted crispy plantain, I can make that at home. These tasted slightly burnt and they definitely weren’t sweet, just bland.
◊ Camarones Cuzco (Shrimp & Rice): Love.
The sauce of this plate is everything! Not sure why the sauce tastes “cheesy” (in my opinion), but that’s what makes it amazing! The shrimps were normal, tasty, not overcooked. Rice also normal, not overcooked. But another unexpected star of the dish were actually the onions. My dinner date and I felt the onions on both of our plates really boosted the flavor of the dish.
◊ Mero Norteño (Sea bass & Rice): N/A.
I personally can’t fully comment on the flavor of the dish. From the bite of sea bass I did have, it was light and buttery. It tasted good. I would say there was far too much rice on my friend’s plate, just a large green mountain of rice! She still really enjoyed her food.
◊ Shots of Pisco Punch & Tequila: Love.
We got free shots on the house near closing time. I see you coming for my heart 😏😍
Overall, I’d highly recommend Pio Pio to young adults and even to families/groups (with their family-size entrees). Pio Pio’s decor, menu, and food presentation is A1. Slightly loud, but aren’t most places in the city anyways?
• Let me know your experience with Pio Pio below! If you decide to visit, tell me what you think!