Katharine Abrams, Bwog’s culinary expert, reports
Still dreaming of butternut squash soup and sage ravioli, I hope to soon see Community Food and Juice without brown paper lining its windows. However, Community’s indefinite close does have its advantages, namely forcing me to explore other dining options near campus. In its wake, Pio Pio, a Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant on 94th and Amsterdam, has become my go-to for delicious and comfortable neighborhood dining.
Pio Pio features an extensive menu of authentic Peruvian dishes but only one of them really matters—their specialty, the Chicken Pio. Whole chickens are roasted rotisserie style and marinated in a pungent Peruvian sauce that seeps into the meat. Peruvian grilling usually incorporates spices such as cumin, paprika, oregano, cloves, garlic, and lime. The result is a heavenly crisp skin encasing moist meat—the chicken alone can withstand any culinary test. Just in case you’re left unsatisfied, Chicken Pio comes with a side of green sauce that compliments the dish and adds a little kick.
The bird comes in three different combos, starting with the plain Chicken Pio. Next up is the Peruvian combo which comes with french fries and an avocado salad (year round!). The Chicken Pio culminates with the Matador Combo, which is served with rice and beans, tostones (fried plantains), salchipapa (sausage) and avocado salad. The menu is designed for sharing, so there are lots of different ways to have a good meal without going into credit card debt. The Peruvian Combo is a perfect amount of food for two hungry people or three friends with modest appetites—the Matador would work perfectly for three or four people if you want to try all the sides. And at $26 and $32 respectively, it’s definitely a great value for the quality of food, ranging from $8 to $13 per person for a meal with several different flavor profiles included. If you feel like trying one of the other Peruvian dishes without neglecting the chicken, I would recommend pairing the basic Chicken Pio with the Camarones Cuzco, a shrimp sauté in garlic, shallots, cilantro, white wine and yellow sauce over rice—this could easily feed four people for $32 total.
If price and chicken don’t convince you, their sangria should win you over. It’s worth splurging for a pitcher of the best sangria I’ve ever had—and I don’t usually like sangria. Even though Peruvian cuisine seems exotic at first, Pio Pio’s food is comforting; you can taste its home cooked origins in every bite. It’s no 113th and Broadway, but it’s pretty damn close.