Pisco Latin Kitchen offers impressive showcase of Peruvian cuisine

Each time we’ve tried it, the grouper was smooth, clean-tasting and flavorful, with an almost velvety texture after soaking in the restaurant’s signature leche de tigre, the citrusy marinade that cures the fish. In Peruvian cuisine, ceviches are traditionally served with slices of cooked sweet potato and toasted corn nuts, called cancha. When we ordered the mixed ceviche, with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and octopus, we couldn’t help but search for more grouper among the other shellfish.

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Peruvian wok dishes are winners, too, and not just because they can feed most people at least twice. Peru saw an influx of Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century, and Chinese cuisine adapted to Peruvian tastes and ingredients over the years. Chinese food is extremely popular in Peru, so much so that lomo saltado, a stir-fried steak dish usually prepared in a wok, is the national dish. The savory stir-fry is served with rice and also, cleverly, on top of a bed of French fries, to soak up the extra sauce.

The Pisco lomo saltado was simple and satisfying, with tender chunks of fire-kissed beef and vegetables, hot from the wok. The lo mein hit the same notes, with thick noodles that were expertly cooked and stir-fried. Those dishes, as well as chaufa (a Peruvian version of fried rice), are available with steak and chicken, and chaufa can be made vegetarian or with seafood.

All ceviches and wok dishes are served in very generous portions and at reasonable prices.

Pisco also has lighter dishes. The guacamole is good and the Cubano sandwich is excellent, highlighted by the fabulous crusty bread that Rosales sources from a Latino bakery in Tampa. Tucked away in the soup and salad section of the menu is an excellent soup called chupe, made with your choice of fish or shrimp in a rich, creamy broth.

There is also an extensive menu of margaritas and cocktails that are expertly prepared, including Peru’s most famous cocktail, the pisco sour. A sour passion fruit is a playful riff on the original, served in a sunny yellow hue.

Those cocktails could take a few minutes in Pisco. As you wait, you may find that the entire restaurant is being served by one or two waiters. Like many other restaurants in the country, Rosales said Pisco has had trouble hiring enough servers. Sometimes the servers themselves are tasked with making the cocktails, and that can further delay service.

Considering the staffing challenges, it’s impressive how the kitchen turns out so much food as quickly and consistently as it does. In the future, even more could be added: Rosales said she’s working with the owner to add a small patio and plans to bring in a Peruvian sushi chef.

More raw fish on the menu sounds like a great idea, but a shorter cocktail list and the removal of some menu items (some of which are a bit repetitive) could allow the kitchen staff to refine some flavors or add a little more creative flair, and would help servers trying to keep multiple tables happy at once.

However, any missteps in Pisco tend to be minor and do not overshadow the positives.

In recent years, the gastronomic scene in Lima, the capital of Peru, has gained worldwide recognition and Peruvian food has been popular all over the world for a long time. Pisco captures the Peruvian spirit, punching above its weight class, providing affordable, high-quality food that is irresistible.

LATIN CUISINE WITH PISCO

Food: Peruvian, with Chinese and Japanese influences

Service: friendly, but occasionally slow

best dishes: lomo saltado, traditional ceviche, suck chowder, grilled chicken, lo mein, Cuban sandwich, molcajete guacamole

Vegetarian dishes: patatas bravas, molcajete guacamole, vegetable chaufas, vegetarian paella, black bean soup, house green salad, caprese salad, various garnishes

Alcohol: full bar

Price range:$$

Hours: 11am-10pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-11pm Friday-Saturday, 12am-9pm Sunday

Parking lot: Shopping Mall Parking Lot

MARTA station: No

Bookings: Yes

outdoor dining: No

Take: Yes

Address Phone: 5975 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-205-5750

Website: piscolk.com

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