Peruvian food is classy and plentiful, a fusion cuisine with a long multicultural history, and there is no better way to experience the tastes and feel of that country’s unique gastronomy than at Aji Limo. Chef, owner Nilton Mori was trained by Peru’s premier chef Ezequiel Valencia, following his own 8-year restaurant experience, so his skillful, hospitable staff knows how to educate and serve customers his authentic food with knowledgeable charm.
Housed in Melike’s former site, Aji Limo serves both Peru’s traditional restaurant and food cart dishes, all based on Mori’s mother’s recipes. Addictive deep-fried corn nuts – cancha await diners at every table, a perfect crunch to add to all the popular ceviche selections. Mori creates six various offerings of raw seafood or shellfish marinated in lime juice, chilies, thinly sliced onions and fresh herbs. Whether your ceviche is the “classico,” or con arroz, made with shrimp, squid, scallops, mussels or white fish, all are marinating in a “leche de tigre,” literally “tiger’s milk.” Leche de tigre, the citrus-based marinade infused with fish juices is said to help one “recover from a crazy night on the town.” At Aji Limo, the juices are mixed with seafood, cilantro and onions for Mori’s special “Energy Dish.” Another ceviche selection gets special treatment – topped with fried calamari.
Starters and main courses feature Mori’s delicate sauces, all based on a variety of indigenous peppers: the aji limo – floral, fruity and spicey; the rocoto- a staple of Peruvian salsa, and the aji panca – sweet and smoky. Black olives also feature prominently in Mori’s sauces, often complementing his huancaina sauce, a silky, spicy, and creamy yellow sauce that smothers his “papa andina a la huancaina:” steamed fingerling potatoes, which are then fried to crisp the skins, and served with sliced boiled egg- a signature presentation. Other popular starters include aji panca marinated fried chicken wings accompanied by Mori’s blue cheese sauce; Tres Calanes – whipped aji infused Peruvian potatoes topped with chicken salad or seafood; or Choros a la Chalaca, a plentiful display of New Zealand green mussels served with traditional Peruvian chalaca salsa made with chile, tomatoes, onions, corn and lime juice.
Entrees reveal Peru’s multicultural history in traditional dishes such as ”tallarin verde con bistek,”marinated skirt steak served with Peruvian pesto-sauced spaghetti; or tallarin saltado de pollo a Peruvian saltado (stir-fry of chicken, tomatoes, onions, and French fries!) served on lo mein noodles. Mori transforms chaufa, a Peruvian fried rice dish, by adding healthy quinoa, seafood and fresh vegetables – a flavor-filled creation.
Alongside fusion dishes influenced by the Spanish, African, Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, Peru’s coastal towns specialize in multiple seafood dishes in addition to ceviche. Jalea Limo – a mountain of deep fried seafood is enough to share, accompanied by fried yucca, leche de tigre and an aji limo tartar sauce. Fresh fish fillets, salmon, snapper, octopus, all get special treatment in a variety of pepper sauces, often accompanied by avocado, asparagus, or one of Peru’s ubiquitous potato varieties. Roasted chicken (half or whole), marinated, crisp and juicy, is served with a choice of sides – rice and beans, sweet plantains, avocado salad or white rice – enough for the table to share.
And, don’t forget to leave room for dessert – if you can. Mori’s churros are divine: a crisp exterior, graced by a fine dusting of sugar and cinnamon, and a creamy interior provide the perfect crunch/soft complement. Try them with the famous Peruvian lucuma ice cream, made from a fruit that only grows in Peru; with a green skin and a yellow flesh, its single seed makes it look like an avocado.
House-made chicha morada, an Andean purple corn drink redolent of cinnamon and cloves, prepared with pineapple, apples and lime-juice, is the perfect accompaniment for a traditional meal. It will remind you of sangria. Or try Inca Cola, Peru’s most popular soda, made from the lemon beebrush (verbena); it’s sweet, fruity and much like cream soda.
Afro-Peruvian music provides just the right atmosphere, as do large, colorful posters of Macchu Picchu and traditionally dressed, elegant Andean women. Peruvians love their cuisine, a fact that is most evident at Aji Limo. It’s a welcoming place, where manager Matye Gracia greets customers, guided by Chef Mori’s sensibility. As he says, “It’s about relationships; if everybody knows about Peruvian food, everybody wins.”
If You Go
199 Main Street, Ossining
Tues.-Fri: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sat.-Sun.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Delivery available, call or online.
Erdal Nehir’s engaging Turkish restaurant became so popular he needed to expand, so he moved down Ossining’s Main Street to a larger location which he hopes to grow even more in the near future. Nehir’s menu is almost identical to the one he created for his previous location: “I am the same chef and create the same tastes,” he said. “What’s different is that we have a greater Turkish wine selection.” Brick walls are decorated with the identical hand-made carpets and large, intricately tooled brass trays. As it was in his earlier incarnation, Nehir’s food is halal and locally sourced whenever possible. And, Melike is still a place where Nehir wants you to socialize with friends and family over platters of mezze, “take your time and enjoy your wine.”
If You Go
121 Main Street
Mon.-Thurs: Noon-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat.: Noon-11 p.m.