FLATIRON — A Peruvian chef with 29 restaurants around the world has opened his first New York City location near Madison Square Park.
Gastón Acurio, the force behind La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, chose a two-level spot near East 25th Street and Madison Avenue for his latest creation, which served its first dinner service last Tuesday.
The menu features dishes that give traditional Peruvian cuisine a modern twist, said executive chef Victoriano Lopez.
Speaking through an interpreter, Lopez said he uses local, organic products in cooking cebiches, the national dish of Peru, tiraditos, the Peruvian version of sashimi, and causas, a traditional whipped potato appetizer.
“I come from a very humble family,” said Lopez, who was born in the Andes and has worked in several of Acurio’s restaurants. “Being in New York, this is the opportunity that every cook in the world wants and every cook in the world waits for.”
New York was a natural point of expansion for the restaurant, which has locations in Bogota, Santiago, San Francisco and Lima, said general manager N.A. Nadir.
Before Nadir joined La Mar in New York, he toured eight Peruvian restaurants in area, from Flushing and Astoria, to Brooklyn and Newark.
“Really no one was actually doing [Peruvian cooking] the way that Victoriano does it. He’s a special talent,” Nadir said.
Nadir found most Peruvian joints around the city did not focus on cebiche, which is a central part of the new menu at La Mar. Different cebiche dishes feature a variety of main ingredients, including oysters, salmon, fluke and yellowfin tuna.
Lopez’s flair for pairing ingredients and flavors will allow La Mar “to really elevate Peruvian food in the American culture,” Nadir said.
Several locations were considered before the restaurant landed on Madison Avenue near East 25th Street. The address neighbors Danny Meyer’s 11 Madison, and Nadir said the renowned restaurateur has been a big supporter of La Mar, helping them land the location near Madison Square Park and checking in with them throughout the construction process.
“It’s like having the perfect sponsor,” Nadir said. “We’re going to be good cousins to each other.”
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana is open for lunch seven days a week and serves dinner Monday through Saturday.