We discovered Machupicchu Restaurante at one of those benefits in which area restaurants set up tables to impress us with their fare. We were impressed. The chupe de mariscos was fascinating, a rice soup with an ocean of seafood, vegetables, and an interesting seasoning I couldn’t place. Hmmm, we agreed: Peruvian food is something we could really get into.
The place is unassuming, with the expected travel posters and one with a beaming soccer team. This is clearly a family restaurant. As well as cans of soda in the cold case, two-liter bottles are dispensed. In fact, a window sign was bragging about a rotisserie chicken special, a whole bird for $13.99, with a big bottle of soda thrown in. Peruvian-style weekend breakfasts were also touted, serving inexpensive dishes, light on the eggs, heavy on the ham or fried pork chunks, or even fried fish.
|Machupicchu Restaurante | 401.831.5925 | 651 Admiral St, Providence | Mon-Fri-Sat, 11:30 am-9 pm; Sat, 9 am-10 pm; Sun, 9 am-9 pm | Major credit cards | BYOB | Sidewalk-level accessible|
The moderate prices have gone up a buck or two since the last time they had their take-out menu printed. Being near Providence College, the place is mindful of families on a budget and also of the family-bereft: you get 10 percent off with a college student ID.
The menu has helpful descriptions in English, but there is an initial confusion — the first category, “Entrada,” is translated as entrée instead of appetizer. Most of those items are seafood, as are four of the five soups — meal portions only, not by the cup — and the list of seafood main courses is about twice as long as the “Carnes” choices.
No pork there, just beef, each dish $12, and only steak. Steak grilled, sautéed, breaded and fried; steak “a lo pobre,” with a fried egg; believe it or not; steak fried rice; and, God help us, steak sautéed with spaghetti, onions, and tomatoes.
But enough of the competition with Argentina. Machupicchu’s offerings make clear that Peru has a long coastline. I started off with a seafood appetizer that was bountiful enough to be my entire meal. Their three ceviches are shrimp, fish, and my choice, ceviche mixto ($14.50), which adds octopus, calamari, and even unannounced clams and mus-sels, all “cooked” by being marinated in lemon juice. Three medium shrimp decorated the top of a high, tangy pile that was not for the tentacle-averse. Accompanying that was hominy and equally large kernels of Peruvian corn, baked crisp.
Johnnie perused the less adventurous starters. Avocados were out of season, so she couldn’t have one stuffed with chicken salad. Something called causa ($6.50) was available, described as tuna fish and chicken salad wrapped in mashed potatoes. But they were out of tuna.
So it came down to boiled potatoes topped with either ocopa or huancaina sauce, ($6.50). We asked our friendly young waiter, Oscar, which he preferred, and the smile that ac-companied his suggestion of the latter convinced us that his mother, Elizabeth Tizon, would not let us down. On the creamy potato slices, the sauce was spicy hot and delicious, a blend primarily of yellow bell peppers and white cheese. (The similar ocopa sauce contains peanuts.) Accents were half a boiled egg and a very flavorful olive.