By David Porat
Francoe Noriega is a celebrity chef based on somewhat humble beginnings as an underwear model. A Peruvian who has done a good bit of television, Franco, with the help of some PR, has become a celebrity Chef. Often wearing not much more than an apron, he is the owner of Baby Brasa, located on 7th Avenue and Perry Street in a glass building that had been a Chinese Restaurant for a long time. There is an original location in the East Village.
The restaurant has a young and colorful vibe about it with a bar when you walk in and many tables in almost a greenhouse type setting that was a bit chilly on a pre-March-snowstorm eve. The menu is a diversified sampling of Peruvian food which at times takes a gentle approach with broad appeal. Peruvian food focuses on local indigenous ingredients, often with a good bit of seafood and the best known example in the city is Nobu.
We started with Ceviche Mixto ($21), an assortment of raw seafood “cooked” in lemon vinaigrette. It was a fresh clean tasting plate that included a bit of sweet potato which added good flavor, texture and color. We also had the Salmon La Luz ($18) which is a more creative ceviche that included a mild pepper aioli with crispy quinoa, that was finished tableside with a blow torch to sear the fish and open up the flavor of the warmed sauce. For our main course we had the Lomo Saltado ($29) or a stir fry of sirloin strips with onions and tomatoes, served with both rice and french fries. This tasted a bit like Peruvian comfort food, the meat was tender and the sauce was good and maybe had an Asian vibe about it. We also had the Arroz con Pollo ($24) which was a quarter of the rotisserie dark meat chicken with cilantro rice, salsa criolla and papita huancaina. The latter two components include a fresh salsa, Peruvian style, and potatoes with a gentle yellow pepper sauce. The menu includes just the organic rotisserie chicken at modest prices which I have enjoyed before. We finished with Tres Leche cake which was very creamy and it was hard to resist chipping away at the generous piece. We also got an order of the Aalfajores or the dulce de leche filled shortbread.
We did overlook having a Pisco Sour, the popular Peruvian drink made with brandy from the pisco grape and citrus, that has a buzz about it—like Franco. I will have to go back for a drink and enjoy the lively and youthful atmosphere.
173 7th Ave. South at Perry
(646) 590-9010 email@example.com