The onomatopoeic name for the Upper West Side's newest Peruvian restaurant, Pio Pio Salon, comes from the Spanish word for the sound of a chicken's chirp. We thought this sound was rather cute until we wondered what its last distressed pio-s were before turning into the deliciously moist rotisserie chicken on my plate during dinner last Friday night. And then we stuck a forkful of the chicken in my mouth and all previous thoughts of concern were replaced with, "Mm, mildly spicy, tender chicken meat sponge bursting with chicken-y juice, we love you."
The accompanying plate of salchipapa, sliced hot dog heaped upon a bed of French fries, also did some magic to our taste buds along the lines of, "This Is Really Addictive and We Do Not Know Why". The hot dog didn't do much for us, particularly because we have an aversion to most sausage matter, but the thick, lightly crispy fries with moist, mealy innards were inexplicably great. Maybe they picked up flavorful meat essence from the hot dog garnish?
Tostones, fried flattened plaintain slices, would have been a bit bland without the accompanying sauce made with garlic, lime juice, and oil. As soon as someone tells us the real name, we will stop referring to it as "awesome sauce", even though what it does is make everything you dunk in it taste awesome.
Thankfully, there was some raw, fibrous vegetable matter to go with our mainly meat and starch-based meal in case there was any concern about health-giving nutritional content (admittedly, there wasn't). The large avocado salad piled a creamy, thinly sliced avocado and tomato on a colorful mixture of lettuce, red cabbage, radish, cucumber, carrot and onion dressed in a light lime-based sauce.
A whole chicken, salchipapa, tostones, rice and beans, and avocado salad only cost $26 as part of the Matador Combo. For that price, we foolishly expected a lot less -- this combo could easily feed four people while comfortably leaving room for dessert. Between the two of us ding that night, we polished off an impressive amount of our plates, but still had leftovers from every dish and sadly no room for dessert unless we wanted to risk spending a night at the hospital from stomach explosion. We were almost ready to risk it after spying a tempting flan on the table next to us, assuming that if the desserts were as good as everything else we ate, we would probably love it. We'll just have to save it for next time.
Pio Pio Salon is located at 702 Amsterdam Ave (and 94th Street). 212-665-3000