We decided to find out what restaurant a Peruvian diplomat would recommend as the most authentic in New York City when my brother told us that he was coming to town with his Peruvian wife and mother-in-law. Murray got the recommendation easily, and there was no debate: Pio Pio, specifically the one located on Amsterdam Avenue at 94th Street.
We had a large group with us – 10 of us altogether, including two small children – so I made sure to call in advance for a reservation.
We placed our food order based on what sounded good to us, but we also relied heavily on recommendations from our Peruvian guests. This is what we ordered, which turned out to be the right amount for eight adults and two children:
- Tamal Octubre (shredded chicken cooked in a corn husk)
- Empanadas de Pollo (fried chicken empanadas)
- Mozzarella Pio (tomatoes and mozzarella, ordered mostly for the kids)
- Ceviche Mixto (raw seafood in lime juice)
- Palta Rellena con Camarones (avocado with shrimp and vegetables, ordered by my brother's mother-in-law as an entree)
- Camarones Cuzco (sauteed shrimp served with yellow rice)
- Chicken Pio (rotisserie chicken)
- Lomo Saltado (beef with vegetables, which my son described as the best beef he’s ever had – even better than that cooked by his mother)
- Picante de Camarones (spicy shrimp sauté, accompanied by quinoa stuffed with spinach and goat cheese)
- Mero con Salsa de Porto (sea bass served on spinach and mushrooms)
- Arroz con Mariscos (rice with mixed seafood)
- Coconut Sorbet
- Arroz con Leche
- Pionono with Lucuma Ice Cream
Murray and I thought all of the food was delicious. Our Peruvian guests said they also enjoyed it very much, although they thought it was “slightly Americanized,” not what they would consider 100% authentically Peruvian.
Prices are what I expected: Entrees range from $12 to $32. And the service was very good. We were not at all rushed even though people were waiting outside almost the entire time we were seated. The restaurant is extremely popular. My cousin, who lives fairly close by, said that she had noticed this restaurant previously because there’s almost always a line out front.
Our only issue was the sound level. We were seated next to the windows facing the street, close to the front door where people were waiting to get seated, and near the kitchen and the small bar space. As a result, each person could really converse only with the person seated immediately next to him. I would like to return to this particular Pio Pio restaurant to enjoy the food again, but I’ll make sure to eat there next time with only one or two other people.
I am also tempted to try another of the Pio Pio group of restaurants in the city. The one on Amsterdam Avenue is the only Pio Pio with an expanded menu. The others specialize in the food that is its namesake: pio pio, or chicken, which is quite tasty and definitely worth a visit. See their website for addresses, menus and other information on all of the restaurants in the Pio Pio group.
Important note: For credit cards, only American Express is accepted.
Where and When
702 Amsterdam Avenue (at 94th Street)
New York, NY 10025
Sunday through Thursday
11:00am to 11:00pm
Friday and Saturday
11:00am to 12:00 midnight