Few restaurants that have opened in Lima this year have intrigued me as much as Amor Amar. The restaurant pairs for the first time Argentine chef Luis Alberto Sacilotto (renowned for his work at La Gloria) and Víctor Away Chang-Say (the owner/creator of Pescados Capitales). With this duo at the helm, my expectations were high.
The restaurant can be found on an average looking sidestreet in Barranco, in a space that operated as a puerta cerrada for decades. If you weren’t looking for Amor Amar, you wouldn’t stumble on to it. In typical Lima cevicheria fashion the restaurant features a large courtyard with mostly open-air seating. It’s surrounded by tall walls that give an air of intimacy to the locale. A Republican era mansion occupies about forty percent of the compound; inside it are an art gallery and meeting space. Rustic it is not. What they have done with the space is impressive. Think of Pescados Capitales and update it 20 years into a green future. Contemporary furnishings and a sleek bar are matched by a collection of brightly colored orchids and leafy green trees.
The cocktail menu isn’t as long or exciting as Malabar or Mayta, though they do have a few interesting creations such as an excellent Aji Amarillo Pisco Sour, which is as well executed as they come. The food menu is long and varied, though as you might expect from the name, seafood is the central theme. Inside is a one-page list of classic dishes: saltados, causas, ceviches, tiraditos, and arroces. These are the standard recipes using high quality ingredients and not overpriced. You will get exactly what you pay for and exactly what you should expect. The more interesting part of the menu are the other dishes; the several dozen original plates and appetizers that showcase Sacilotto’s range that dabbles in southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, and Argentinean gauchos. There’s Duck Magret served with an Aji Amarillo risotto. The underutilized and delicious Charela, a seabass from the north of Peru, is found throughout the menu. A wood-burning oven that slow roasts suckling goat and lamb. Desserts are a strong point here. There are house made ice creams and sorbets of mostly native flavors. A Sopa de Frutas and Caldo de Maracuya pairing sounded intriguing, but the waiter encouraged me towards the Milhojas stuffed with lucuma and chocolate mouse and sided with pistachio ice cream that was as rich as it sounds.
One aspect of high end dining in Lima I am not appreciative of is the cubierto, the cover charge. It’s a mandatory 10 soles per head added on to the bill, which should be done away with in every restaurant that ever existed. To be fair, however, Amor Amar adds enough extras beyond bread to make it worthwhile: an amuse bouche before the meal plus a half shot of pisco and small chocolates/alfajores at the end of the meal.
Jirón García y García 175 (near cuadra 7 of Av. Bolognesi)
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.