y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Renzini Underground Dinner

Renzini Underground Dinner

On top of Chef Renzo Pinillos' catering company, he hosts an occasional underground dinner in his own home in Southbay area of L.A. After stints at restaurants such as JiRaffe, Chef Renzo pepares modern Peruvian cuisine, influenced with Asian touches.

The food reminded me of Mo-Chica, but perhaps a bit lighter, reflecting local California style.

Renzini Feb12_o Chef Renzo Pinillo 2

Renzini Feb12_e Donna with Renzo's daughter

I'm a huge fan of underground dinners as my previous posts show, but this one really stood out to me. I loved to see his wife in the kitchen as sous chef and his adorable daughter, Francesca, playing in her room then  mingling a bit.

Renzini Feb12_c kitchen sign

The general vibe transported me to Latin America. The room was peppered with Peruvian guests who not only contributed to a festive ambiance, they helped answer questions about the ingredients.

Renzini Feb12_k live musicians

They even managed to provide live music in the fully packed room.

Renzini Feb12_b menu with pisco

While they completed finishing touches in the kitchen, we perused the printed menu and enjoyed a couple of pours of Pisco, Peru's national drink.

Renzini Feb12_d amuse crab shrimp fish nuggets tamarindo sauce

The amuse bouche came out family style - crab meat, shrimp and fish nuggets with Saigon style tamarindo sauce. Our table devoured these warm, crunchy seafood nuggets. The herbs and sauce complemented them well.

The table also contained bread, a Peruvian chili sauce and a bowl of toasted white corn, another Peruvian staple.

Renzini Feb12_f tuna tiradito with aji amarillo tiger milk Peruvian beans Canchita salad

The 1st course started off with a bang - tuna tiradito with aji amarillo tiger milk, peruvian beans and canchita salad with arugula.

The freshness, tart pickled red onions, crunch from the toasted corn and hit of chile sauce worked like a symphony in the mouth.

Renzini Feb12_g pisco sours

Mini Pisco Sours were passed from a tray at this point. This Peruvian cocktail contains Pisco, the national grape brandy along with a lime-frothy consistency. It's a very refreshing drink.

Renzini Feb12_h kitchen corn detail

Renzini Feb12_i kitchen photography corn

Renzini Feb12_j Chef Renzo Pinillo 1

In the kitchen, they didn't miss a beat as several of us watched them and shot several photos of the food in progress. Chef Renzo explained some ingredients and techniques as he cooked.

Renzini Feb12_l wild Peruvian mahi mahi with chimichurri potatoes corn peas

The 2nd course of wild peruvian perico (mahi-mahi) with chemichurri from Los Andes, nativas potatoes oxzitel and peruvian purple, corn and peas with llantan also displayed the chef's love of seafood.

Like the other courses, it contained a variety of flavors and textures. The potatoes at the base of the dish were flavored by the fish. I enjoyed the addition of the green elements with the peas and sauces.

Renzini Feb12_m kitchen making lucuma pisco

Renzini Feb12_n lucuma Pisco

The pacing of the meal worked so well. I saw some blender action starting up and found they were making another Pisco variation, this time a Lucuma Sour with the fruit Peruvian tropical fruit, lucuma.

One of the guests at our table suggested we try the lucuma ice cream, which I definitely plan to do.

Renzini Feb12_p Huatia beef with herbs and spices sweet potato puree asparagus

By the time the 3rd course arrived, I could barely eat another bite.  The huatia (beef cooked in a terracotta pot with herbs and spices), sweet potato puree and Ica asparagus was so good, I managed to eat most of it.

I loved the pops of color on the plate with the vibrant orange of the sweet potato puree and the bright green asparagus.

Renzini Feb12_q almond layer cake rum dulce de leche fava bean banana ice cream blackberry compote

Renzini Feb12_r almond layer cake detail

My expectations for dessert usually are low, mainly because of being full, but also since I am more a fan of savory foods than sweet.

The 4th course of almond cake layers with zaya rum stuffed with pallares (Peruvian Faba beans) dulce de leche, banana ice cream and blackberries compote totally wowed me and I finished every drop on the plate.

The sheer creativity of baking this nutty cake with those intricate layers of beans and dulce de leche blew me away. It did not taste as heavy as one would think when hearing high protein ingredients like almonds and beans. I could not detect anything but cream between the layers.

Once again the accompanying fruity ice cream and the tart compote added the creaminess and sour touch to balance the rich cake. Chef Renzo nailed the dessert.

Renzini Feb12_a welcome sign
When reflecting back on this whole experience, I still marvel at how beautifully they put it all together.

It's not only an amazing value for such high quality and exotic food, but the atmosphere truly transports the diner.

I always love learning about new ingredients in meals and this one taught me many new things, even though I am not a stranger to Peruvian cuisine.

If you would like to experience this type of meal, you can contact them at this form.

Whether it's a catering engagement, where they provide everything from start to finish, or experiencing one of the underground dinners, it surely will amount to a culinary experience you will not regret.

4 Responses to “Renzini Underground Dinner”:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Renzini is the best and his food is out of this world, congras Priomo . Edwing

  2. That was definitely a great meal and I look forward to my next one. :)

  3. The food definitely IS out of this world, and I'm also looking forward to the next round!

  4. Renzini is the best...you must go to his place and enjoy not only the excellent Menu his vibes and friendly host...I´ll be back soon...MIG

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