The former Inca capital Cusco that is located near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range is today a lively city with around 360,000 citizens who have adjusted to the 3,300 metres above sea level that the city is set on. In the centre of Cusco you will find Cicciolina, on the second floor of an old colonial house from the Spanish occupation.
Cicciolina will give you more than just food. It is an experience to come to the Southern European influenced restaurant with red and yellow walls, both wooden and metal furniture, clusters of sun-dried chilli and garlic hanging from the ceilings, and original lamps. The aromas from the two open kitchens will quickly find their way into your nostrils when you enter the restaurant, with a tapas bar as the first section of the restaurant where you can have a whole dinner or more ideally start your evening with some of the originally crafted tapas and a glass of South American wine.
It is easy to spend several hours at the tapas counter just watching all that happens in the two busy kitchens. After you have had your tapas and still have room for more, you should proceed to the more formal dining room with a romantic and intimate setting for your dinner with Italian, Mediterranean and Peruvian cuisine.
The menus are different at the bodega, tapas and the more formal restaurant. In the fine dining room that is quite casual, with a lot of trekkers preparing or returning from the Inca Trail and other excursions, you will have a starter like the Andean consommé with an infused oil of smoked paprika. The dish is filled with vegetables from the Sacred Valley and garnished with wild herbs from the region and a slice of beef fillet. Another one you should try is the typical Peruvian dish causa with a fine layer of yellow potato mash with chillis & herbs, topped with deboned guinea pig confit and a touch of caramelised apple. In Europe and the United States the guinea pig is a pet, but in Peru it is considered a delicacy and widely used in the cooking.
Cicciolina is one of the best restaurant experiences you can have in Cusco and most of the food served is great as well, even if there are some obvious downers served occasionally, and you have to be prepared for the casual style of the restaurant with an intention of being a fine dining establishment, but with its own style and cuisine that will satisfy most food lovers.
Written by Andy