- Category: Restaurant Reviews
Brian, and I were in the mood for something different for dinner this time. After two misses with places that had recent "For Sale" signs on them, we stumbled upon Mr. Pio Pio. Now it wasn't exactly a stumble, as it popped up as being a restaurant in the vicinity. So we knew the address we were looking for while driving. If we didn't have that, we'd have driven by this place never the wiser. The front sign is so faded, it's basically non existent. When you walk in, there are roughly six tables in the small restaurant.
Service is seriously lacking, for two main reasons. First, Mr. Pio Pio is an authentic Latin American restaurant. While that will mean true Latin flavors, that also means a language barrier when ordering; and a language barrier can be difficult if you have questions about the dishes or can't quite translate them off the menu. Second, this place gets busy (justifiably so, which we'll get to later) and there's just not enough service or kitchen staff to meet that demand. The staff seems stressed, and not all that willing to put out exceptional service.
All that said, we move on to the food. Oh, the wonderful food. For an appetizer, we ordered the Chicharonnes (crispy fried pork!). For meals, Brian ordered the Grande Feast which consisted of a 1/4 rotisserie chicken, grilled beef, spare ribs, rice & beans, and plantains. I ordered the Carne Asada, which is a marinated and grilled beef that comes with rices & beans, and sweet plantains.
After a good wait, our chicharonnes arrived. I was really looking forward to my maiden taste of chicharonnes. Without having another example to compare it to, I can say that the pork was crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside. Although the flavor of the chicharonnes was light, the fattyness made them very rich. My main critiques: the chicharonnes were a bit tough to eat texture wise due to the frying, and given the richness, I think there were just too many of them in the appetizer (too much of a food.. I know right?).
When our entrees arrived, there was a mixup with mine (remember that language barrier). After taking our order, the server misunderstood a question we asked, and replaced my order with something else. In the end, I had to wait a bit longer for my dish. Oddly enough, it came out faster than anything else in the meal.
The chicken, and beef in Brian's dish were absolutely amazing. The beef was well marinated, pounded thin, grilled to a nice char, and tenderly cooked. The chicken was marinated, moist, and amazingly juicy. You could pick up cilantro, and lime amongst the flavors. The ribs, though tasty, were a bit tough to cut through but still pretty enjoyable.
My steak, just like Brian's, was marinated and cooked to perfection. Every bite made me want to do a happy dance. I ordered the steak medium, and was amazed at how a steak that's been so thin it's almost reduced to one side, can actually be cooked to a medium temperature. Lo and behold, there was pink in the steak. My hat's off to that level of skill. The plantains were perfectly cooked, and they even take the time to season their rice!
All in all, Mr. Pio Pio is a must eat! My big recommendation, though, would be to call the order in and pick it up. Really, the service is that lacking, that I would even venture to say that it's not worth going there to eat a sit down meal, but it is a meal worth eating.
Rice & Beans