Fresca has finally opened after 6 months of renovating the old Mozarella di Bufala location on Fillmore near California. The room looks completely different. The walls are painted in a time consuming rag dab method in shades of red and orange. It has a very pleasant look to it with tables in front and a counter in back.
The food is Peruvian, and I would say a rather upscale version of many Peruvian specialties. A rather ambitious menu has 13 entrees, 8 appetizers, 7 Ceviches and 5 side dishes. It has a small but well thought out wine list featuring Argentinian, Chilean, and California wines. There is also an interesting selection of bottled beers.
We were brought a basket of good sourdough bread while we waited at the counter for our table. The service was pleasant and attentive, if at times slightly disorganized--but this is only their fourth night open.
For appetizers we ordered Ceviche Chino and Bolitas de Yuca. The ceviche was made from Ahi Tuna with soy, lime, avocado, lemongrass, and spicy aji huacatay served on butter lettuce cups. The flavors melded very well, and I don't remember having a better Ceviche. It was a bit on the hot side. The Bolitas, from the "sides" section, were fried yuca balls filled with jack cheese and drizzled with huacatay mayo were also very good. They were deep fried with a crunchy exterior enclosing the soft yuca and the melted jack cheese. The flavors and textures were very satisfying.
For main courses Mrs. J had the Lomo Saltado, sirloin strips sauteed with onions, tomatoes, and french fries in a soy-balsamic glaze. It was every bit as good as when we had it in our favorite restaurant in Lima. It was served with a little pyramid of rice. One feature of this dish is that the fries are not served on the side, they are sauteed with the meat etc.
I had the Adobo de Chancho, which is braised pork with Peruvian chiles and red wine adobo. It was served with the ever present pyramid of rice, refried beans, roasted camote sweet potatoes and a salsa of marinated onions and cilantro that seemed to be marinated in lime and was very much like Ceviche. The pork could not have been more tender and the dish was delicious.
To accompany it, I had a Cusquena dark beer, which is a rather sweet tasty Peruvian beer.
For dessert we had Alfajores. I can highly recommend these wonderful cookies even if I did get covered with the powdered sugar that covered them. They are shortbread cookie sandwiches filled with dulce de leche and liberally coated with powdered sugar.
Fresca is a welcome addition to Fillmore, and judging from the crowd on this first Monday of its existence, reservations are going to be required soon.