Incanto enchants in Cusco

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Inca walls, Peruvian produce and personal local service come together in this uniquely-sited Peruvian-Italian fusion restaurant near the historic Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

Our waiters appeared smartly dressed in Italian-inspired check shirts and long aprons that set a mood of friendly but professional service.

The open style dining room contains an impressive traditional adobe pizza oven that sits between the jig-saw like Inca walls that lend so much of the atmosphere to this popular eatery. Further adding to the ambience are the log-burning stoves to ward off the chilly Cusco nights.

Locals and tourists alike can watch the chefs’ creativity through the huge glass window into the kitchen at the rear of the dining room whilst sipping on one of the many creative cocktails available from the bar. Try the Incanto Sprit to refresh yourself after exploring the Plaza de Armas. For the sweet-toothed, the Tropico, with its melon liquor and subtle Pisco kick, is a perfect way to get you in the mood for the varied menu that awaits.

First of the appetizers was beef carpaccio served with pears perfectly sautéed in Pisco and a light gorgonzola sauce. The subtly of these often assertive flavors complimented each other extremely well without anyone flavor dominating. The Andean antipasto contained Andean cheese, grilled vegetables, a tasty alpaca chorizo along with a new use for quinoa (an Andean grain) – a tasty croquette. Finally, there was a shrimp-laden salad that was adorned with big juicy palm hearts which worked well against the smoky flavor of the delicately grilled plump shrimp.

The Italian/Peruvian fusion menu features not only classics from both countries such as a mouth watering selection of pizzas and pastas along with various preparations of guinea pig and my local favorite, lomo saltado, but also some interesting fusions of the two.

Our introduction to the main courses was the Mediterranean trout. Flawlessly cooked, the fish was moist, well-seasoned and came served with a surprisingly light puree of garbanzo that was an interesting alternative to the all-too-common white rice that seems to be found on many a dish here in Peru. The capers and black olives lent sharp bursts of zing, which were quickly absorbed by the texture of the garbanzos so as not to overpower the fish’s natural, quieter flavors.

Squid-ink dyed home-made tagliolini sounds interesting enough but add in shrimp sautéed in a red and yellow aji sauce and one has not only the hottest offering on Incanto’s menu, but also a dish to make anyone with a liking for the spicy drool!

The pasta was fresh and cooked just right, the shrimp had a most wonderful texture so that nothing distracted from the unique, spicy salsa – that while certainly picante – was not so hot that the taste buds could not enjoy the whole dish.

Locro (a traditional stew) is one of many traditional Peruvian dishes that is slowly making its way to foreign palates. Our locro was served as a delicious part of the beef tenderloin dish and its traditional squash and cheese components sat comfortably with the deeply flavored Marsala wine reduction sauce that gave this dish it uniquely tasty twist. A timeless classic meat dish truly fused with a typical Peruvian offering with a modern flourish.

The smoked trout, goat’s cheese and basil pizza from the adobe oven came with a thin and crispy black quinoa dough base. This interesting use for the increasingly popular quinoa added something very appetizing, and the combination of flavors of the homemade pomodoro sauce and toppings kept me wanting just one more slice.

All the desserts were so beautifully presented that taking a spoonful almost seemed wrong – almost…..Our first was a moist chocolate cake served a brandy-snap cone filled with a lime and sage granita – small crushed ice with a smoother texture that was perfectly prepared to off-set the sweetness and richness of the cake so that just as it felt the last mouthful was so perfect and filling a spoonful of the granite allowed me to go back for just one more bite!

And one more bite was definitely in order for the apple tart that came next. The sprig of decorative rosemary was frosted to look like a winter wonderland and tease the senses into what was waiting. The puff pastry was so light and complemented the texture of the warm, scrumptious apples and smooth home-made vanilla ice-cream superbly.

This was a simply delectable way to finish what was a mouth-watering and varied menu in a setting only to be found here in Cusco.

The menu is varied and prices range from about 20 to 50 soles for main courses and desserts 12 to 21 soles.

Address: Santa Catalina Angosta 135. Close to Plaza D’Armas.
Tel: 084 254753. Email: incanto@cuscorestaurants.com
Open daily 12:00 midday – 11:00 pm

 

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