I first visited Pio Pio Latin Cuisine on Semoran Boulevard in the middle of March and, as irony would have it, I ordered takeout thinking that I’d return in a week or two for an in-house visit. And we all know what happened next.
But seeing as I had a good takeout experience, I figured I might as well go ahead and tell you about it.
There are other Pio Pios (Piae Piae?) in the area and although it doesn’t say so on any of the restaurants’ websites, they are all related via ownership. The menus are similar, but, as a pleasant young man at the Semoran Boulevard restaurant explained, “We all serve the same food, but there might be subtle differences like in a sauce.”
Those who have been around Central Florida for a while might remember when Pio Pio was known more as a rotisserie chicken place. It’s name, after all, translates to chick chick. I first reviewed it in 2002 when it was a small shop off International Drive
Chick is still on the menu, but the restaurant now has much more to offer, featuring traditional dishes of Colombia and Peru.
From the Colombian section of the menu, I ordered the bandeja paisa, which apparently is what you order when you’re really really hungry. It’s an ample platter of grilled steak and Spanish sausage accompanied by crispy pork belly arranged like a corona with yellow rice in the center. Slices of fresh avocado, sweet plantains and, for good measure, a fried egg finish the dish.
From the Peruvian section, I ordered the beef chaufa rice, a sort of Latin American version of fried rice, complete with soy sauce and scrambled eggs but also with ginger. Some fried yuca topped the dish at my request.
All of the people I had contact with either on the phone or at the restaurant were pleasant and welcoming.
This particular Pio2 originally occupied a smaller space across Semoran in the Clicks strip. This freestanding building gives them more room, and I can’t wait to return for that second visit I intended to make in March.
Pio Pio Latin Cuisine is at 2259 S. Semoran Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-207-2262.