Sunday, September 6, 2009

Peruvian fish story

We tried a new restaurant close to home last night -- Uncle Paulie's Puro Sabor in Maywood, a Peruvian rotisserie chicken place with a full menu of beef, fish, rice, beans and root vegetables.

What Uncle Paulie's lacks is wild fish. When I learned the ceviche de pescado was made with farmed tilapia, I ordered another appetizer, boiled potatoes with cheese sauce. Other dishes were made with fillets; no whole fish, such as red snapper, was offered. Portions are generous and prices reasonable.

Don't miss the milky Peruvian hot sauce for the chicken or the homemade chicha morada, a traditional purple-corn punch, garnished here with finely diced apple ($2).

My wife and son both ordered chicken soup ($4) and couldn't finish the two pieces of chicken in the broth. Entrees also were too large to finish. We had the marinated one-quarter rotisserie chicken (dark meat) with rice and beans ($3); lomo saltado, pepper steak strips served over french fries with rice ($12); and tallarin verde con apanado, linguine with pesto and topped with "breaded top brasciole" ($11.50). I have had this dish in other restaurants and it was invariably served with fried fish. It would be great without the beef and topped with a fried egg "a la pobre."

Before we left, I spoke to the owner about the farmed fish. He said he wanted to keep prices low, but if I called ahead, he would get red snapper from the fish market down the street (Seafood Gourmet), make a ceviche for me and charge me accordingly.

My favorite Peruvian restaurants -- Pollos El Chevere in Passaic and Jaimito's in Clifton -- are a lot further from home. So if I get a hankering for an Asian- or Italian-inspired Peruvian dish, Uncle Paulie's is just a few minutes away. Though Uncle Paulie's is good, it can't replace those two winners. (Revised.)

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