When it comes to Peruvian cuisine in wider Bensonhurst — which includes Gravesend, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights — our neighborhood is blessed with a plethora of options.
Swollen Empanadas, well-fed rotisserie pollo and ceviches abound at these these South American eateries. There is the casual El Pollo III on 18th Avenue; we also love the slightly more upscale and inimitable La Granja on Bath Avenue; and then the fast-growing family-owned Peruvian franchise Pio Pio, which has an outpost at 282 Kings Highway in Gravesend.
With nine locations sprinkled across the five boroughs, except for Staten Island, this lively restaurant and bar offers a traditional Peruvian feast drenched in its signature aji-infused, light green sauce. The restaurant’s high ceilings, lovely rustic-modern decor stand out in a rather gritty commercial corridor. Pulsating music lends the chic space a festive atmosphere and most of the cocktails are mixed with Peru’s favorite liquor, pisco. It’s chefs also also make refreshing white and red sangrias, each crammed with fruit, that are simply delicioso!
The Kings Highway location, which opened in May 2014, is the first in Brooklyn, with others located in places like Mott Haven in the Bronx, Rego Park and Jackson Heights, Queens, and Hells Kitchen — all of which have racked up rave reviews on Yelp.
While the robust main dishes — which come in combos piled high with yukka, beans, salad, and enough rice to feed a small brood — are hearty and filling, but when it comes to Peru’s famous bold flavors, the apps are where it’s at. Try the moist anticuchos ($16) (skewered beef hearts, a classic Peruvian delicacy) ($12), Pio Pio’s lime-infused ceviche (16), and the aromatic Peruvian shrimp chowder — made with rice, green peas, choclo, and egg — which are all irresistible.
Given my chicken soup fetish, I also had to try Pio Pio’s version ($5) while i was there, and I’m glad I did. The bird leaps out of the bowl, dolled up with scallion and herbs, with noodles and large potato spears sinking to the bottom of a glistening broth.
Each dish is elegantly presented on white plates, the table services is fabulous, and the waiters are knowledgable about the menu. But mostly, you should go to Pio Pio, because it is a rollicking good time. You’ll want to try everything, and you’ll want to share — so bring family and friends, or book a table for your next work party. Enjoy!
Visit Pio Pio at 282 Kings Highway or call them at (718) 627-3744. You can also order online through their website.