Pio Pio has been on the list for a long time and we finally made our way to 94th and Amsterdam on Sunday night to meet my husband’s aunt for dinner. The restaurant was bustling with a diverse crowd at 7:30. Pio Pio is known for its Peruvian rotisserie chicken. Our Peruvian chicken standards are high as my husband grew up in Arlington, VA, home of the world-famous El Pollo Rico (I’m told Anthony Bourdain visited on a recent episode of “No Reservations”). We’d give a slight edge to El Pollo Rico, but Pio Pio has nothing to be ashamed of in the Peruvian chicken wars.
My husband and I split a Matador Combo – for $30 you get a whole chicken, rice and beans, tostones (fried green plantains with a garlic dipping sauce), salchipapa (French fries with hot dogs) and avocado salad. Aunt Carol ordered – baked Chilean sea bass on a bed of sautéed mushrooms and spinach. Not surprisingly, the star of the show was the chicken and the accompanying spicy Peruvian sauce. It was fun to order the (enormous) combo to sample Pio Pio’s offerings, but the only side that I would order again was the rice and beans. The French fries were good, but the hot dogs were unnecessary. The tostones were surprisingly bland and I would opt for the maduros (sweet bananas) next time.
My husband and I split two margaritas, which were perfectly enjoyable, but I think that a pitcher of sangria is the way to go. I tried Carol’s sangria and found it surprisingly good (I don’t like sangria typically…baffling, I know). Overall, a delicious meal at recession-friendly prices – what more can you ask for? We are considering bidding on an apartment on 95th and Broadway and the proximity of the apartment to Pio Pio is squarely in the pro column!