On a recent drive down Scottsdale Road, south of McKellips, I noticed a small sign by the road for Villa Peru Restaurant. Located at 1857 North Scottsdale Road in Tempe, this new Peruvian eatery was too tempting not to pop by -- and, boy, was I in for a treat.
Open just a few weeks, Villa Peru serves up traditional Peruvian cuisine for lunch and dinner, courtesy of chef Walter Salazar, formally of Inca's Peruvian Cuisine in Tucson.
The surprisingly cute and cozy strip mall exterior leads to a casual, relaxing interior with walls bathed in a warm, rich yellow. Those-in-the-know sit in booths and at tables topped with black tablecloths, munching on cancha (toasted corn) between sips of sweet chicha morada (a Peruvian extract of purple corn juice) while awaiting their selections from a menu of authentic Peruvian fare in the form of salads and soup, signature dishes, appetizers, seafood, sandwiches, Peruvian rotisserie chicken, and a few vegetarian selections.
And while the large, flat-screen TV seems unnecessary in the space (when I visited, a Gloria Estefan concert was playing), I had to smile when my friendly server, originally from Lima, popped in an educational travel video of Peru when I mentioned it was on my A-list of travel plans.
And then the food began to arrive...
First up was an amazing appetizer of anticuchos. Featuring skewers of marinated grilled beef or heart (I had one of each), golden brown potatoes, pickled onions, and a crazy-good yellow sauce made with Peruvian corn, the array of tastes and flavors on this single plate was amazing -- no wonder it's said to be one of the most popular dishes in Peru.
My Peruvian rotisserie chicken with rice was okay, as was my seco de carne con frejoles, pieces of slow-cooked beef smothered with a sauce of cilantro, carrots, and peas along with canary beans and white rice. They were a bit on the dry side and seemed to lack the excitement and flavor explosion of the anticuchos appetizer, but were decent enough to keep my curiosity piqued along with a desire to try other offerings.
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With its inviting atmosphere, friendly service, and promising cuisine (not to mention a free video tour of Peru), I'm excited to get back to Villa Peru Restaurant soon and sample more of chef Salazar's fare. Definitely worth stopping by.
Villa Peru Restaurant 1857 North Scottsdale Road, Tempe 480-946-3334
Hours: 11 a.m to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.