Peruvian cuisine is emerging out of the shadows in more and more cities nationwide, and if this culinary movement’s Beverly Hills flagship Picca is any indication, this is a movement that is long overdue. Peruvian cuisine is a fascinating and delicious portmanteau of South American, Japanese, and Chinese flavors – Peru boasts large populations from both Asian countries – which Picca elevates to new heights with exquisite presentation and subtle flavor combinations.
The interior of this nouveau cantina, or should I say nuevo cantina, is a study in modern restaurant design with now-classics such as subway tiles, reclaimed wood, and of course the artisanal chalkboard announcing specials and hashtags. That’s not to say it is not a beautiful or welcoming place to be, for it most certainly is that. Just don’t expect to see much in the way of Colonial or Inca influences as you partake of the restaurant’s nibbling plates.
Luckily the food itself does not ignore this heritage and instead embraces the rich tapestry of Peruvian cuisine, particularly the Japanese influence that has permeated the South American country. We started off tapas-style feast with a Snow Crab Causa, which is tiny morsel of whipped potato, Huacaina sauce, delicate crab, and a delightful avocado mouse. Like many Picca dishes, the Causa arrived at our table looking like artfully crafted molecular gastronomy, but filled our grateful bellies with Peruvian comfort food. Truly a fantastic mixture. From here we bounced to Ceviche Criollo (sea bass), Anitcucho Pork Belly (wonderfully cooked pork belly that dissolves under bite; my favorite of the evening), and Chicharron de Pollo (breaded chicken with pico and a sweet smoky sauce).
You would be remiss not to also partake of the excellent cocktail selection. Half the buzz surrounding Picca revolves around its libations, and I highly recommend you start your journey through their cocktail menu at the Picca Pisco Sour. You will not regret it.
Peruvian food, that is to say good Peruvian food, is a such a distinctive and delicious concoction of flavors – simultaneously familiar but novel in its combinations and ingredients – that you owe it to yourself to explore this rich culinary history. Picca is not possibly the first, but certainly the best high-end Peruvian outpost on America’s shores at the moment. Skip Beverly Hill’s traditional eateries that boast more paparazzi than quality dishes and instead dive into a culinary adventure at Picca.