Rio's Fine South American Cuisine
WHERE: 1600 W. Lake St., Addison
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
DRESS CODE: Casual
INFO: 630-773-3370, www.riosaddison.com
One of the joys of living in this melting pot of a nation is that everyone comes here, and they bring their delicacies with them.
I love American, Italian, Mexican, Thai and Japanese cuisine, along with several other varieties I've enjoyed over the years. But every once in a while, it's fun to branch out by tasting something new.
And something new is exactly what I found at Rio's Fine South American Cuisine in Addison. Billed as a Peruvian restaurant on various websites, Rio's also has delicacies from Argentina and Brazil that are sure to tempt your taste buds.
When you first walk in, you're greeted by a bar area that's tasteful and hip, but not particularly ethnic. You could meet business clients for drinks here and they wouldn't necessarily even recall that it was a South American establishment – unless they look closely at the wine list, which is filled with selections from all over the continent.
Enter the dining area, though, and you'll find yourself in a scene that's both elegant and evocative of the dishes you're about to sample. A massive mural across the back wall combines the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. Other small decor touches give hints of South America without overwhelming the room and making it kitschy.
I stopped by Rio's on a recent evening with a dining companion, and I started right off with an authentic drink from south of the equator – a Dona Paula Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina, which the wine list describes as "bright, crisp, tart green apple skin, lime zest, guava, and grapefruit with a touch of minerality." It proved to be a terrific accompaniment to the dishes that followed.
We started with the Peruvian Sampler, wanting to get a variety of flavors. The sampler includes the ceviche de pescado (a Peruvian specialty), a tamale, anticucho de la pollo (chicken skewer), and papa a la huancaina (a savory sauce over boiled potatoes). I most enjoyed the flavorful skewer, while my companion was a big fan of the tamale.
When selecting an entree, I was immediately taken by the bright pictures of every dish on the menu. One item, the Pollo Enrollado, grabbed my attention right away. It features a stuffed chicken breast with asparagus, red peppers, spinach and cheese. The chicken is rolled in "panko" and topped with Algarrobina sauce. I expected something savory and was pleasantly surprised that it was more complex than that.
"It's got a sweetness to it," my dining companion remarked happily after trying a bite.
My companion's dish was even better, the Tallarin Verde con Churrasco. It included a generous helping of perfectly seasoned steak alongside fettucine mixed with Peruvian pesto (spinach, basil, white cheese, walnuts and olive oil). The steak and the pasta both tasted great on their own, but together the flavors were perfectly paired.
We both really wanted dessert – interesting items included churros filled with caramel and hot chocolate dipping sauce, and ice cream made with Andean Lucuma fruit – but we were both too stuffed to properly enjoy it.
That just means that next time I'll have to – regretfully – forgo the Peruvian Sampler to save some room to try some exotic ice cream.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.