After moving to the Beverly Hills area, my roommate and I were on a walk and saw this neat old building painted a deep shade of red that said ‘Picca‘ in large letters across the front. It was closed during the day, but a quick smartphone search yielded dinner hours and a slew of great reviews from local residents and tourists alike. The only downside was everyone strictly suggested reservations, and it was already Saturday afternoon.
Though they were closed, we climbed the steep stairs (hey, we were on a walk, it seemed healthy and like good research, win-win) to peek in the window. From what we could see through the front doors there was a high-end eclectic look to the interior. As we hurriedly descended the steps, we decided to at least come here for a round of drinks at the sepia-toned mirrored bar, tonight.
The valet was already in full swing when we returned at 8:30 all dolled up for an evening party in Hollywood. The hostess welcomed us energetically, though sounded a little concerned when we said we didn’t have reservations. Judging by all the fun conversation, clinking of glasses and laughter, the reviews we read about needing reservations were spot on - this place was packed! Well, just pleasantly packed; they did a great job of not stuffing bodies through the door like some LA hotspots, but there was for sure not one open seat in the whole place. The upstairs area looked neat as patrons watched the main dining area from above.
We snagged two seats at the bar together right away, and were greeted warmly by staff all along the short walk to the very active bar. It looked like their bartenders were on fire, dancing, or maybe exercising by how ferociously they were mixing the shaken drinks, but after we ordered from the happy hour menu, we figured out why. When we asked our server for the typical standard bar drink they were quick to apologize for not having things like rum or vodka. They had a full liquor license, but only carried native liquors that were from the South American heritage based cuisine. They instead recommended what behind the bar would be the most similar taste to the particular spirit we had mentioned and did a wonderful job substituting something that was better than what I ordered. Just like the unorthodox list of liquors, they had unprocessed and natural sweeteners like Agave Nectar or honey to sweeten the drinks, and other interesting ingredients like raw egg and avocado.
My avocado martini arrived after being shaken silly by the bartender, to an almost danceable mixing rhythm, alongside my friend’s Pisco Sour, a very popular drink in Peru. They were both amazing, something we would not find at other venues in Los Angeles, and tasted very different from the other. Though there was alcohol in both, they each tasted light, healthy, and refreshing so they were a great paring to start our evening.
The whole time at the bar a table did not open up, and as a credit to their atmosphere and food, everyone kept their reservations. We stayed for another round (we switched drinks, because the first round was so good!) and split an appetizer, though the whole menu looked delicious.
Mesmerized by all the activity in the restaurant, the lively, well dressed patrons, and beautiful open kitchen ringed by a white marble table top, we did not want to leave. There were a few patrons seated front and center viewing the preparation of their amazing dishes. The savory flavors of a dish made of chicken, rice, and an egg over easy that we split, was finished all too quickly. The tastes were very rich, full of subtle spices, and changed as we progressed through the dish. It was almost too confusing to have such complex flavors coming from something that they made look so easy to prepare.
It was difficult to leave, but having promised to meet up with other friends, we managed to keep from ordering every dish one after the other (actually, there looked to be over 40 amazing dishes). With reluctance we pulled ourselves away from what was beginning to feel like a really well done Peruvian themed house party. We were sure to mention it to all our friends, especially the avocado martini, as soon as meeting up with the rest of our group. All night, we could not help but comment to each other on the highlights from our first stop at Picca, where despite the name, we were well satisfied.
Published on Feb 08, 2013