To complete our 9575 Pico Blvd weekend, we came to Picca last Saturday night. It was the same six that went to Sotto the night before, plus William Long. After the good, but not great experience downstairs, it was time for us to move on up. Myself, Ben, Eugenia, and Linh-Nam first went to Picca within the first three weeks of its opening, and I really enjoyed my dinner there, although there wasn’t anything that took my breath away. I was hoping that, with some experience under its belt, the restaurant can be even better than I remembered. Plus, I wanted the Picca (and possible Peruvian) newbies (Danno, Paul, William) to be impressed at the variety of Peruvian small plates to share, and the chic and cool atmosphere that makes it a fun hangout place.
We had a reservation at 8:30pm, but our table wasn’t ready yet. So Stephane, co-owner and in charge of FOH, treated all of us to a free drink. I was hoping to have the Chilcano de Anis again, but they were out of the anise syrup. But Stephane highly recommended The Avocado Project (which Ben ordered last time), so I happily obliged. What a great drink. Creamy, sweet and tart all at the same time. And thanks Stephane for the generous offer. We really appreciated it!
The Avocado Project ($12) – 5 island white rum, fresh avocado, ascorbic acid, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, shaaaaaaaake it, double strain it, top w/ finishing salt
jalea mixta ($12) – crispy mixed seafood, tartare sauce
Had this last time. I wanted to have a mixture of favorites from our last visit and some new dishes to try this time around. I remembered this to be really good last time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
albacore ($5) – garlic chip, ceviche sauce
I ordered my two favorite causa from last time. The albacore is still my favorite one, though I really need to expand my causa horizons next time.
scallops ($7) – mentaiko
Paul noted that the scallops one was really mushy, and mushy on mushy wasn’t pleasant to him (he didn’t like the causa in general). While I don’t share his sentiments to that extent, the scallops do seem to be cut smaller this time around.
ceviche mixta ($14) – mixed seafood, sweet potato, choclo
My first time trying this. All the ingredients came together well here. I still prefer the crocante, but this was a good ceviche as well.
ceviche crocante ($16) – halibut, leche de tigre, crispy calamari
Still one of my favorite dishes at Picca. Halibut ceviche was great, and the crispy calamari provided a nice crunchy contrast.
oysters a la chalaca ($9) – pan fried oysters, cherry tomatoes sarsa
The group wanted to try this. I liked the oysters from last time, but didn’t love them. Probably because I would’ve preferred them raw in this preparation.
beef filet ($9) – sea urchin butter, garlic chip
Juicy and tender. Eugenia did note that it was on the saltier side this time, but I felt that it was just as good this time around.
tomatoes ($7) – burrata, black mint pesto
Kind of like a caprese salad on a skewer. Tomatoes were nice, but I would’ve liked a little more char on them.
black cod ($12) – miso antichuco, crispy sweet potato
How did I not order this last time? The cod was perfectly cooked, and tasted delicious. My favorite antichucho now, and arguably my favorite item altogether. This was so good, we ordered another round of this.
corazon ($6) – beef heart, rocoto sauce
Runner-up to the black cod for best antichucho of the night. The texture of the heart was so chewy and tender, you couldn’t tell that it wasn’t just a cut of beef. Ordered another round of these as well. Looks like I’ve found my mainstay dishes.
chicharron de costillas ($9) – crispy pork ribs crostini, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, salsa criolla
One of those good, but not great dishes from last time. I enjoyed it much more on this visit. Just imagine a really awesome Peruvian bruschetta or French bread pizza.
chanfainita ($12) – braised oxtail, mote and potato stew
Was really looking forward to trying this. The oxtail was really well-cooked – the meat fell off the bone. And the stew was very hearty. A bit on the milder side in taste though.
carapulcra ($13) – roasted black cod, peruvian sun dried potato stew, chimichurri
The black cod was ridiculously soft, while maintaining a crispy skin. Pretty amazing. I found the stew here to be more flavorful than the oxtail one.
lemon tart ($7)
We got three of the four desserts (no cheesecake this time around – not too crazy about it). There was a lemon-lime gelee instead of a spherification this time around. Still a good dessert.
Custard-filled churros = creamy deliciousness. Enough said.
I still consider this more of a parfait, but like the lemon tart, this was good once again.
As a whole, I found dinner this time around to be better across the board. And yes, some of the dishes on this visit really did amaze me. It’s time for a grade bump. And since I found out that it’s within walking distance from my work, I think it’s time I continue my quest to try all fifty-or-so dishes at the restaurant (I’m about halfway there). Maybe I can tackle the 32 oz. ribeye by myself? Thanks Chef Zarate for an even better dinner this time around, and thanks Stephane (and the servers) for the great service! Just remember to mix in the desserts with the other dishes next time to please Eugenia…
Chris Hei grade: A-
9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035