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Ricardo Zarate's Picca opens Saturday

June 24, 2011 |  9:41 pm

Picca
Picca, Ricardo Zarate's newest Peruvian adventure in dining, opens Saturday after a week of soft openings that included a packed friends-and-family night and two hectic nights of Test Kitchen reunion dinners.

On Thursday afternoon the restaurant was buzzing with activity as Zarate and his staff prepped the kitchen and custom cebiche bar for service, and mixologist Julian Cox finished the final stages of training with his bar staff. A staff meeting was had, then a staff meal of build-your-own pho, and it was off to the races for a 6 p.m. opening that was also a Test Kitchen reunion.

The airy restaurant is both casual and classy with giant front windows, lots of smooth-wood paneling, cushioned seats, mismatched drink glasses, a bright and open kitchen, decorative low-hanging lights, and mirrors scrawled with definitions of Peruvian food-and-drink staples including pisco, the national liquor on which Cox's drink menu relies heavily.

The menu includes crispy quinoa salad with poached egg, pancetta and feta dressing; fish escabeche with avocado and micro arugula; mixed seafood cebiche; Peruvian paella; and beef heart, tongue and chicken breast anticuchos (skewered meats popular on the streets of Peru).

Cox's drink menu was crafted to complement the food with a creative, seasonal list rounded out by a potent pisco sour (whipped instead of shaken); a spicy little number called chilcano de anis made with fresh ginger and anise syrup, pisco and lime juice; and a Maracuya made with fresh passionfruit juice, housemade grenadine, absinthe and pisco.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

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