Peruvian restaurants have popped up in my locations over the past decade--and now North Lockwood Ridge Road welcomes what could be the most creative Peruvian restaurant yet: Brasa & Pisco.

Brothers Dante and Louis Valezuela have just opened their dream restaurant, along with young and talented Chef Diego Salizar, most recently of the famed LaMan restaurant in Miami. The kitchen is buzzing, using family recipes that Chef Diego brings to a more modern, focused level that Brasa & Pisco calls Peruvian fusion. 

The space is warm, thanks to wood tables and soft lighting, with rustic banquet seating a bar towards the back of the room. On Friday and Saturday nights, there's live music, which only adds to the ambiance. And one look at the menu and you'll know you're in for a sophisticated, bold meal. 

I took my server's suggestion and ordered the pork-stuffed wontons, trio cause and tempura ceviche. Thinking the pork wontons would be the same as at any basic Chinese restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to find three crispy wontons filled with slow-cooked  marinated pork with a mix of brightly flavored Peruvian pepper sauces.

Next up was trio cause,  which included spinach, beets and yellow pepper, chilled potato with octopus, chicken salad  and shrimp. Beautifully presented, and a zesty sauce brightened up the entire dish. 

Tempura ceviche is best for someone who doesn't love a classic chilled ceviche.  For this version, fresh fish is dipped into beer batter, then flash fried and served with crispy onions and yellow pepper aioli. It's a fun, playful dish, and a must with a Pisco sour.

Along with the pollo a la Brassa (slow roasted marinated chicken), which I would normally gravitate to, I saw rave reviews on Yelp for tacu tacu a la Brasa. The dish is comprised of marinated, grilled strip loin steak that's served atop a crispy fried rice pancake with Peruvian onion slaw, a fried egg, plantains and chimichurri sauce. This could be the best Peruvian dish I've ever eaten.

To balance out all that red meat, I also tried the quinoa risotto. Three types of organic quinoa are cooked risotto-style with yellow peppers, then topped with rare tuna. The texture was spot on, and the tuna perfectly rare, as ordered.

Attention to details are everywhere. The queso fresco is house-made, and the restaurant also has an in-house pastry chef creating sweet treats, like spiced sweet potato and butternut squash doughnuts drizzled with fig sauce, or a lucama cheesecake with dulce de leche sauce. I personally suggest ordering a lucama martini with dessert--it's a creamy, semi-sweet cocktail that pairs perfectly with sweets.

I have no doubt that fans of Selva Grill and the former Darwin's on 4th will love Brasso Pisco. In addition to great food, the service hits it out of the park--the waiters are enthused, well-versed on the menu and attentive. How refreshing.

Lunch is served beginning at 11:30 am; dinner is served from 5 p.m. on seven nights a week, with a happy hour menu and a late-night bar menu available. 

In short: Buckle in for a flavorful ride at this winning new restaurant. I'll definitely be back.

Brasa & Pisco | 8347 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota | (941) 360-0300 

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