Peruvian cuisine is perhaps one of the hottest ethnic cuisines to hit the foodie collective conscience right now. Until recently, it has proven difficult to find eateries offering non-seafood specialties from this vast and diverse cuisine, but with places like Bravo Gourmet Sandwich opening, it now seems as if more and more cooks are ready to expose the local dining community to some of the lesser known aspects of Peruvian cuisine, including its sandwiches.
Located in an informal storefront in Wilton Manors, Bravo offers an array of delicious and interesting sandwiches, as well as some homier dishes. The quintessential Peruvian sandwich, the Butifarra, is done very well here and consists of slices of a house made, pot roasted country ham called jamón del país, romaine lettuce leaves, a tangle of julienned red onions marinated in lime juice and cilantro (salsa criolla), and a smear of mustard-mayonnaise sauce on a large, homemade crusty roll.
This crusty roll is the bread of choice for practically all of Bravo’s sandwiches, including the more unusual pan con chicharrón, which includes slices of fried pork, along with fried sweet potato slices, and the same salsa criolla found in the Butifarra sandwich. This fried pork and sweet potato sandwich, it turns out, is an abridged version of the more substantial Desayuno Lurín, the typical Peruvian weekend breakfast that is big enough for two to share and is available all the time at Bravo.
The breakfast special is comprised of a platter of chicharrón (fried pork slices), fried sweet potatoes, salsa criolla, and a red tamal, with a crusty roll on the side to make one’s own sandwich. The red tamal, made with corn meal and wrapped in a banana leaf, is firm texture and redolent of fruity Peruvian ají chiles with bits of peanut, hard boiled egg, black olive, and chicken.
Other sandwiches on the menu include slices of juicy and flavorful roasted turkey or a superior roast pork, both made fresh daily on premises, with generous smears of an addictive olive mayonnaise and a spicy rocoto chile sauce. Both sauces are available to diners in squeeze bottles to add to anything from a tamal to an empanada, which is also available at Bravo with its traditional Peruvian shortbread crust dusted with powdered sugar to offset the baked turnover’s savory beef filling.
Apart from its namesake, Bravo Gourmet Sandwich also offers a few less handheld menu items, including one of the best lomo saltados available in South Florida. This Chinese-Peruvian dish comes with a generous amount of seared tenderloin tips (lomo saltado translates to “sautéed loin”) with toothsome onions, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy french fries in a puddle of sauce assertively flavored with soy, red wine, garlic, ají, a dash of chopped cilantro and other seasonings.
There are a few other satisfactory mainstays on the menu, but what is most exciting at Bravo is seeing their lineup of daily specials that include dishes rarely found outside the home kitchen, as well as some regional delicacies rarely found outside Peru. Definitely keep an eye out for Carapulcra, a dish of African influence containing dried potatoes and a variety of meats stewed in wine, ají chile paste, peanuts, and a touch of chocolate that Bravo makes exceptionally well.
Adobo de Chancho, a dish from the southern region of Arequipa consisting of large chunks of pork stewed in corn beer with ají and onions, is also delicious when it’s available. Caucau, a homestyle tripe and potato stew seasoned with turmeric and mint, was mediocre when last sampled, and a beef and cilantro stew called Seco arrived a bit tough and sinewy.
Apart from that, most of Bravo Gourmet Sandwich’s offerings are among some of the better interpretations found in South Florida. Definitely sample a glass of Bravo’s house made chicha morada, a punch infused with purple corn, pineapple, apple, quince, cinnamon, cloves, and lot’s of sugar that has a pleasant, bubble gum flavor and is the perfect accompaniment to anything on the menu.
Bravo Gourmet Sandwich is located at 2925 Northeast 6th Avenue, Wilton Manors, FL 33334. (954) 533-4350. www.bravogsandwich.com