The Bottom Line
Forget everything you know about the ubiquitous pollo a la brasa, or South American rotisserie chicken. Pio Pio is not your local takeout joint, but a festive Peruvian restaurant worthy of a family occasion.
With two colorful levels, several dining areas, and a back patio, Pio Pio handles big weekend crowds of families with small kids, groups of friends, and young couples. Though the menu is simple -- just roast chicken, seafood, and sides -- the food is cooked perfectly, served promptly, and priced reasonably. And Pio Pio's green hot sauce is in a word, addictive.
- Excellent rotisserie chicken and sides served family style
- Fun, lively atmosphere
- Affordable prices and quick service
- Amazing green hot sauce
- Great for families
- Parking is a headache
- Only chicken and seafood options
- No reservations
- Wait for a table can get long on a Saturday night
- Only cash or American Express card, no Visa
- Pio Pio Address - 8415 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (at 84th St) (see more locations below)
- Hours - Daily, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
- Phone - 718-426-1010
- Subway - 7 at 82nd St - Then walk north four long blocks to Northern Blvd. Turn right two short blocks. 15-20 minutes
- Recommended Dishes- avocado salad ($6), Peruvian Combo ($20, chicken, very large fries, avocado salad)
- Prices - Reasonable. A $26 Matador Combo can feed three to four people. $8 whole chicken, $26 seafood platter
- Takeout - At the corner of 85th St and Northern, Pio Pio's takeout annex serves the same food for the same prices.
- More Pio Pio Locations - 62-30 Woodhaven Blvd, Rego Park, NY, 718-458-0606; 264 Cypress Avenue, Bronx, NY, 718-401-3300
- More - 1746 1st Ave, New York, NY, 212-426-5800; Pio Pio Salon, 702 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025 (opened in March 2007)
Guide Review - Pio Pio - Restaurant Review
The high tin ceilings, huge glass windows, and Incan murals set the tone for Pio Pio. This is a place to come for a meal, not just a chicken, and Jackson Heights knows it. Friday and Saturday nights find Pio Pio's tables full of families and friends catching up (and celebrating an improbable number of birthdays), and a line snaking out the door.
Popularity, however, doesn't mean a long wait. Everything moves along quickly, thanks to the simple menu. It's marinated, rotisserie roast chicken ($8), served whole, split down the middle. Or jalea ($16), a platter of fried seafood. A few combination meals pair chicken with sides, like the Matador Combo ($26, chicken, rice, beans, avocado salad, salchipapas, and tostones).
Chicken is the real star. It's in the restaurant's name, the sound a Peruvian chick chirps: pio, pio. You have to try the chicken with the sensational house green sauce. Just what's in the sauce is a secret, but I'll guess cumin, garlic, lime, and something that makes it a little creamy - mayonnaise? It's not an overwhelming heat, but a nice heat with a tart pucker.
Everything comes family style, and that's important. Sharing dishes is fun! If you're small in number, don't fret the big portions, just savor those leftovers. The platters of food arrive five to ten minutes after you order, another benefit of a simple menu, and a blessing for families with small kids.
Of the sides, the avocado salad ($6) is the best. Its lush slices of avocado rest on a bed of lettuce, onion, and tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar. Salchipapas ($4) marries cut-up hot dogs with french fries -- ideal for the kids. The ceviche ($10) is more hit-and-miss.
If you're bringing friends, a pitcher of tasty sangria will spice up your feast. And you might finish with a flan and some fruit-flavored ice cream. You'll end up chirping "pio pio" with happiness.