I’d been a huge fan of Chef Renzo Macchiavello’s ever since the first time I ate at his restaurant, Renzo’s A Taste of Peru, a decade ago. A friend brought me to the restaurant, and I loved it so much, it became the first article I wrote in the Orange County Register.
Several years later, the restaurant closed and we jumped from one Peruvian restaurant to the next, until Chef Renzo himself, brought me to Delicias Peruanas, a little gem of a place in Lake Forest run by the Shimozana family, who are Peruvian-Japanese. Last year, the family suffered a huge loss when Chef/Owner Roberto Shimozana Sr passed away. After almost a year, with one owner in between, Renzo’s A Taste of Peru has reopened in the old Delicias Peruanas space. For me, this is apropos, a coming full circle, kind of story!
Since the restaurant’s opening several months ago, we have been numerous times. It is my son’s favorite Peruvian spot, and now, even friends and family frequent the place pretty often.
The Buttiffara ($11) sandwich is something my son orders every single time he is here. The sliced roast pork is sandwiched between a roll along with sliced sweet potatoes, and pickled red onions. We love the garlic aioli and usually ask for extra. It is a perfect combination of bold flavors marrying together so perfectly!
One of my favorite dishes is Aguadito de Pollo ($12) a homemade Peruvian chicken soup with hearty vegetables, cilantro, and rice. It is the perfect thing to eat, especially when it’s cold — like right now! I like my soups super hot, so I always let them know when I order to make it scorching. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, then I’m afraid this isn’t the soup for you because it is pretty much one of the primary ingredients.
We order Ceviche Mixto ($17) every single time we are here. I prefer mine spicy, but you can also request it be mild or medium if you don’t have a high spice tolerance. There are chunks of fish, shrimp, mussels, and calamari marinated in citrus juices. Sweet potato puree, hominy and pickled onions are thrown in for added textures. I love the tartness of this beautifully composed dish.
It took me a long time to appreciate Aji de Gallina ($11/half $14/full) a comforting plate of shredded chicken smothered in an aji amarillo and walnut sauce. Served with boiled eggs and a splash of olive tapenade. I love the tapenade so much I eat it with other things as well.
The old restaurant wasn’t set up for wok cookery, but now, Chef Renzo is able to offer up the quintessential Peruvian dish — Lomo Saltado ($13-$18). Choose chicken or steak, and it’ll be wok-fired with fried onions, tomatoes, cilantro, then tossed with french fries, and served with a side of rice. I recently asked Chef Renzo to make a vegetarian version of this using mushrooms! If you give him ample notice, he’ll create any Peruvian dish you might be craving, as long as he can get the ingredients.
One evening, I asked for tallarin, and Chef Renzo created lomo saltado tallarin for us!
You can even get it in a wrap! Lomo Saltado Wrap ($13) sees steak strips, red onions, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, rice, beans, and sweet potato fries all wrapped up in a spinach tortilla.
Just last week, I was there with some friends and asked Chef Renzo to create whatever he wanted for us. Our off-menu dinner comprised of tallarin with steak was one of the dishes we were presented with…
… as well as Pescado a lo Macho — fish topped with an array of seafood prepared in an aji amarillo sauce, served with rice.
If you get a chance, ask if he has Empanadas. If he does, definitely get them. These empanadas are perfectly crispy, and what I love most about them is that the wrapper is not super thick, so it doesn’t overwhelm the filling. SO good!
And when you’re finished with dinner, take a box of the Alfajores home with you. They are the best alfajores you’ll ever eat! — sorry, no photo.
Like the old Irvine location, we visit the restaurant at least once or twice a month, and are stoked that this old familiar favorite is once again available to us, every day except Sunday, when the restaurant is closed.
Renzo’s A Taste of Peru
24354 Muirlands Blvd
Lake Forest, CA 92630