I eat a lot of fresh food, but the meals on an Amazon cruise I took in the 1990s are my standard when remembering some of the freshest dishes of my life. It was fish caught off the ship, chicken and meat purchased from families on the riverbank, locally grown vegetables and herbs. It was Peruvian cooking, as the ship and crew were based in Iquitos, Peru.
Those memories are what drew me to Warike Peruvian Bistro, a small restaurant that opened two years ago in a small strip shopping center. Owned by Chef/Owner Roxana Benvenuto and her son, Carlo Chiarella, the décor is modern—black and white with clean lines.
A Clasico Warike Sour ($10.50) started my meal with this tart, traditional drink made from pisco (Peruvian base liquor), lemon juice, sugar, egg whites and garnished with bitters. The crispy, tender, fried calamari rings arrived with house-made Peruvian tartar sauce and aji Amarillo sauce, made with the spicy Peruvian pepper, both of which enhanced the calamari.
The Aji De Gallina ($16), a traditional comfort food, was just that. Made from shredded chicken breast, walnuts, Parmesan and creamy aji Amarillo sauce, this would be comfort at any meal. It’s served with a sliced boiled egg, boiled potatoes and white rice. The walnuts in the sauce provided a deeper taste with the pepper sauce, and altogether it was delicious.
The Arroz con Mariscos ($23) arrived with mussels, calamari, shrimp, the sharp/sweet aji panca pepper, onions, sofrito, Parmesan, lime juice and brown rice laced with peas. This was enough for two people, with the seafood tender and full of flavor.
The Crocante De Lucuma cheesecake, called “the gold of the Incas,” tastes like a rich, caramel custard drizzled with chocolate. Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit touted to contain lots of beneficial health qualities. Not that we were even thinking about that; we were too busy with a sweet ending to a very good meal.
Peruvian food, thankfully, has made a huge impact in local dining communities. Add Warike to your restaurant rotation, but make a reservation, because this venue fills up quickly, especially for dinner.
IF YOU GO
PARKING: Parking lot
HOURS: Tues.-Thurs., noon to 8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
PRICES: entrees $15-$34
2399 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 561/465-5922