Sunday, April 27, 2008

Piolin : Hartford

I'm not sure when this is from, but the Hartford Advocate lists their top three Peruvian restaurants in the Hartford area.

San Marcos (now called Furia Chulaca), the restaurant that I've tried and rather like, is rated third.


It boggled my mind already knowing that there was one solid Peruvian restaurant in an area that so many immediately dismiss as a cultural and epicurial wasteland. But enough to have a top 3 list?

It was obviously necessary to try out these other places to see whether the Advocate really knew their snuff or not, so my gf and I saunter on over to the number 1 ranked Peruvian restaurant in Hartford, Piolin, a decent-sized but still cozy restaurant on New Britain Ave. It's not exactly in the best of neighborhoods, but hey, Peruvian food is worth it.

The place was bustling. Nonetheless, our waiter was terrifically enthusiastic, saying things first in Spanish and then repeating it in English. He gave a cheer when I ordered Inca Cola.

And the food?

We ordered the Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian Style Seafood with Rice) [above] and the Lomo Saltado (Stir-fried beef with tomatoes and onions over fries) [below] and they both were quite good. Of particular note, the meat and seafood were cooked very well, with the beef and the calamari being terrifically tender. Or 'tt' as I call it.

The solid cooking of the meats, by itself, is enough for me to say that the food here is slightly better than that in Furia Chalaca. My only reservation is that the dishes that we tried here, while well-done, had fairly simplistic sauces and flavors. (And damnit, I'm convinced that the lomo saltado had soy sauce in the sauce, which given that Chaufa is on their menu may not be too far off). So I'll reserve final judgement on the comparison until I've tried out some of Piolin's other dishes.

One last note, it might not like it from the pictures, but the portions were gigantic. I barely finished half of the lomo saltado and my gf didn't look like she made a dent in the Mariscos con Arroz. So while the prices might look a bit on the high side, you'll definitely have some leftovers to take home.

417 New Britain Ave. Hartford, CT (map)
(860) 293-1255
($Hartford, $Recommended, $South / Latin American)

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