Thanks to Mistura, a new Paso Robles restaurant, local palates have been introduced to the bold, bright flavors of Peruvian cuisine.
Located adjacent to the River Oaks Golf Course pro shop near Cuesta College’s North County campus, Mistura offers an ambiance that can be enjoyed as a fine dining experience or a casual place to grab lunch or dinner. The open dining room is decorated with festive Peruvian textiles, and seating at the bar or outside provides views of the golf course fairways and the hills in the distance.
In addition, two muted flat-screen televisions above the bar are always tuned to natural history programs about South America. An upbeat but low-key international soundtrack helps set the mood musically.
Mistura was launched at the end of November 2014 by the husband-and-wife team of Italian-born chef Nicola Allegretta and Peruvian native Jackeline Ortiz De Zevallos-Allegretta.
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The couple also owns Mama’s Meatball in downtown San Luis Obispo. That eatery is being ably operated by other family members while the Allegrettas concentrate on this new venture and their already well-established Haute Catering business.
As Nicola Allegretta explained, Peruvian cuisine has evolved from centuries of indigenous and foreign influences.
First were the Pre-Incan and Incan civilizations, followed by the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The Spaniards brought with them a slave trade that introduced African culture to Peru. Chinese and Japanese immigrants started arriving in the 1850s, and the years following World War II saw the arrival of Europeans and Middle Eastern immigrants.
“You could go there for a year and have something different for every meal,” Allegretta said.
Though already familiar with the Peruvian fare his wife and her family cooked at home, Allegretta travelled to Peru in advance of opening Mistura to immerse himself in learning techniques and recipes. Upon his return, he began developing menus that would showcase local, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible.
“We made all the menus different, so they wouldn’t compete with each other,” Allegretta said. While some dishes overlap, he added, “You can come here for brunch, lunch and dinner and see different things.”
All the menus present diners with an approachable spectrum of options.
Be as adventurous as you want to be, or stick with familiar flavors and preparations. The Mistura staff is eager to answer any and all questions you might have.
The lunch menu includes empanadas, or, baked meat-filled pastries, with dipping sauces as well as a Ponja salad with seared ahi tuna and a Butifarra sandwich with Peruvian country ham and aji amarillo — an ancient variety of chili pepper that is central to the country’s cuisine.
Also key to Peruvian fare is cebiche (aka ceviche), featuring fresh seafood marinated in lime juice. Mistura often offers both a white sea bass version and a cebiche mixto with sea bass, calamari, shrimp, octopus, clams and mussels.
Sunday brunchgoers can opt for a three-course meal with bottomless beverages, or go a la carte.
Opt for a familiar dish such as eggs Benedict with crab and Belgian waffles with fresh fruit and maple syrup, or extend the reach of your brunch routine with grilled octopus.
For dinner, order a rib eye steak with vibrant chimichurri sauce or housemade fettuccini with organic tomatoes and free-range chicken. If you want more of an adventure, try the black tamales with wild shrimp and squid ink or even alpaca carpaccio.
“We opened Mistura in part because of all the sophisticated palates in the area,” Allegretta said. “Some people come in and always order the same thing. Some come in with a group and order all different things to share.
“It’s really about the fun and the experience.”
River Oaks Golf Course, 700 Clubhouse Drive, Paso Robles | 238-3333 | misturarestaurants.com
Hours: Lunch Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner Tuesday-Thursday 4-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 4-10 p.m., Sunday Brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Monday.
The scene: An open dining room that’s appropriate for either special occasion fine dining or a casual meal.
The cuisine: Modern Peruvian fare with bold, bright flavors and menus offering diners a spectrum from the familiar to the adventurous; wine and beer available, including 10 to 12 drafts on tap.
Expect to spend: Lunch entrées $12-16; dinner appetizers $9-16, entrées $20-35; Sunday brunch $35 for three courses with bottomless mimosas or a la carte with lunchtime pricing.