Rios D’Sudamerica – 2010 West Armitage, Chicago

The Ample Bites family had an early dinner at Rios D'Sudamerica on Saturday night. The restaurant, which is located in Bucktown, serves authentic Peruvian food in a beautifully decorated space with very high ceilings and tasteful murals of the sights and scenes of South America. Rios overs a large menu including a number of fish, poultry and meat entrees.

The stars of the menu are the ceviches. We enjoyed the Mixto Ceviche which featured white fish, squid and shrimp in a lime and coconut-based marinade that also included a touch of ginger and habanero pepper. The ceviche is served with a piece of boiled potato, sweet potato and some hominy. Our waiter explained that the purpose of the starches is to offset the acidity of the marinade. He, of course, was right – the balance of the starches with the ceviche was amazing.

The entrees were served with a basket of bread with a puree of smoked jalapeno peppers as a condiment. This spicy sauce was very powerful but it added a different and enjoyable flavor to the warm crusty bread. We enjoyed our appetizer with some Peruvian lager and the house Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our appetizer of Jalea de Mariscos en Salsa de Cebolla, a breaded fried calamari dish topped with a fresh tomato and onion salsa, was an interesting departure from the typical dish served with a marinara sauce.

The AmpleBites party enjoyed four different entrees which were all served with a hearty portion of rice. The Arroz con Pato was a dark beer marinated leg and breast of duck served over an aromatic cilantro rice. Pollo Relleno was a breaded chicken breast that was stuffed with a combination of spinach, ham and chihuahua cheese, pan-fried and then served with a white rice and cream sauce. The Arroz con Mariscos featured a combination of shrimp, clams, squid and mussels served paella-style with a brandy, white wine broth. The Moqueca de Pescado was a halibut steak which was steamed in coconut milk with garlic, tomatoes, onion, peppers and cilantro infused palm oil.

All of the servings were generous in size, especially the two Arroz dishes. The majority of the entrees were priced just under $20. The ceviche, at $14, was well worth the price, in fact, we all agreed that the ceviche with a cold beer and a basket of the bread with the pepper puree would be a nice light meal for about $20 plus gratuity.

As we were leaving, our waiter reminded us about the Sunday Brunch, priced at $13, which we were told featured a wide variety of dishes. I suspect that one of the Ample Bits party, a new resident of the Bucktown area, is likely to be back soon for the brunch.

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