Ceviche Mixto at the new Pappa Gallo in Rockville Centre.

Ceviche Mixto at the new Pappa Gallo in Rockville Centre. Credit: Newsday/Marie Elena Martinez

With its dramatic nightclub vibe — dim lighting, vibrant Latin American murals, lush velvet furnishings, a stage for music and a massive backlit bar — Rockville Centre's new Peruvian restaurant is a stunner. Featuring an upscale take on a cuisine full of bold flavors and authentic recipes, it’s not only about the food; there will be nightly entertainment.

Peruvian classics and a bevy of pisco-based cocktails line the menu created by chef Emmanuel Piqueras, who draws on his native cuisine and experience — stints at three Michelin-starred Arzak in Spain, as well as private chef to the former president of Peru — to nail traditional dishes like ceviche. Offered in styles both classic and Nikkei (Japanese-influenced), Pappa Gallo’s ceviches ($18-$23) will change seasonally. Hearty starter potato dishes include the causa, meticulously layered with snow crab salad and shrimp chicharrón, and papa a la huincaina ($12), or boiled potatoes with a cheesy piquant sauce, olives and hard boiled eggs.

Street food fans will find traditional anticuchos ($19), or skewered veal hearts, and salchipapas ($13), or sliced hot dogs and fries. Family-style entrees include Peru’s national dish, lomo saltado ($34), a beef stir-fry doused with aji Amarillo sauce served over French fries and white rice and arroz de mariscos ($39), Peru’s answer to paella. But it was the rotisserie-style pollo ala brasa that had Peter Kambitsis, one of Pappa Gallo’s co-owners, the most excited. Here, the chicken is cooked low and slow for 24 hours, and served in whole or half-sized portions ($19/$29).

Co-owners Kambitsis and Mohammed Shakib also own Mojo in Rockville Centre and Forest Hills, Latin American fusion restaurants to which Pappa Gallo feels like an older, more polished sibling. “Pappa Gallo was a concept we had wanted to develop for a while,” explained Kambitsis, a 30-year veteran who also owns SugarBerry Bakery-Café in Rockville Centre. “We knew we just needed to find the right space.” 

Pisco, a grape-based brandy that is considered Peru's national spirit, takes center stage at Pappa Gallo, and with a bar this festive, cocktails like the Pisco Sour and the Chicha Morada Pisco made from Andean purple corn, shouldn’t be missed. Live music featuring local Latin musicians takes place nightly around 6:30 p.m., creating a “Copacabana-style” experience, according to Kambitsis. “We always see live music in Greek and Italian restaurants,” he said. “So we wanted to focus on Latino music. The community has been essential in connecting us to incredible local talent.”

Pappa Gallo, 273 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre, 516-208-3220, mypappagallo.com. Open Tuesday-Wednesday 5-11 p.m., Thursday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m.and Sunday 5-11 p.m.

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