PARSIPPANY — On Black Friday, November 27, 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Yellow Pepper, Peruvian Restaurant, decided to make a brave, bold, and risky move and open the doors to their new venture for the first time.
Personally, I am glad that they took that chance because unquestionably this authentic restaurant offers another culinary adventure to our already culturally rich community. I made it a point to be there on that day and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the ambiance, and the genuinely friendly and accommodating service. I also had the opportunity at that time to meet with new owners, the friendly and personable, Victor and Damaris Arrese. (By the way, Mr. Yellow Pepper is a reference to the flavorful aji amarillo pepper, which is a staple ingredient in many Peruvian dishes). I knew it was about time for a return visit to this enjoyable restaurant, and a restaurant review.
As I entered, I was warmly welcomed and offered the table of my choice. As I remembered from my previous visit, the ambiance is casual, comfortable, cozy, and yet at the same time somewhat classy. On entering the restaurant, you immediately encounter an attractive, semi-circled, sparkling clean sports type bar. I personally liked the relaxing vibe. Tiled floors, comfortable lighting, several smaller two-person tables along the sides, three large screen televisions, sound off, above the bar. Great place to catch a game once restrictions are relaxed and that opportunity becomes available again. The attractive, spacious, interior of the restaurant is designed with two levels, the second level, complete with a fireplace, provides an extremely comfortable dining area, which surrounds the lower section. Slightly muted music in the background, brick, and wood accents throughout, provides diners with a cozy, warm feeling, with simple, nicely displayed artifacts and paintings on the walls. Decorative black tables and chairs complete the overall appearance offering a casual, upscale, classy, stylish look. The entire restaurant appeared spotless and well organized, and it was obvious that all recommended COVID-19 health precautions were being adhered to.
I introduced myself to Damaris Arrese, who was my hostess this evening, and it was very humbling that she remembered me from my first visit in November. Even recalling where I sat, and what I ordered. I was obviously impressed. Unfortunately, Victor Arrese, was not in on this evening, but an extremely friendly and gracious Mrs. Arrese was more than willing to sit and talk with me about the restaurant and its diverse menu. Interestingly, Peruvian food, now widely recognized as one of the best cuisines in the world, is heavily influenced by Chinese, Japanese, and South East Asian cultures making it a formidable force in world gastronomy, all of which makes Peruvian food so distinctive and interesting.
Prior to opening Mr. Yellow Pepper, Mr. and Mrs. Arrese owned a small Peruvian restaurant in Passaic, Mar y Tierra, their first venture into the restaurant industry. When the opportunity arose to acquire the former Mule Tavern Bar & Grill on North Beverwyck Road, they saw it as a wonderful opportunity to bring their great Peruvian cuisine to the area in a much larger venue, despite the ongoing pandemic chaos. Residing in the area and having immediate family who live in Parsippany also helped move that decision along.
Mr. Yellow Pepper take pride in the fact that they use only the finest, fresh ingredients in the preparation of their dishes and serve authentic Peruvian traditional fusion recipes, offering some of the best international cuisines from around the world. It is obvious that Mr. and Mrs. Arrese have significant pride in not only their food and service, but in what they bring to the community as well.
During my first visit I also went very traditional in my selections. Causas de Pollo (Peruvian yellow pepper, lime & spices blended into a creamy potato mash served with a topping of your choice) for an appetizer; Peru’s second most popular dish, Lomo Saltado for my entree (Beef tenderloin strips, red onions, tomatoes, seasoned with soy sauce and flambeed in a fire wok).
Tried the traditional Pisco Sour (Peru’s most popular drink) to top off a great meal. Every bite was as delicious the last, delectable, and exciting flavors, and the portions were more than ample.
As much as I enjoyed those dishes that I tried that first night I was anxious to experience some, if not all, of the many other appealing selections on the menu. As soon as I sat down, my very amiable server, Paco, promptly arrived with hot rolls and butter, while I pondered over the diverse and appealing menu. When finally deciding on a short rib dish, (more about that later) to compliment my meal, I ordered a glass of Peruvian Tabernero Cabernet Sauvignon recommended by Mrs. Arrese, who was also serving as my hostess. I then focused on the Pulpo Anticuchero as my appetizer (Charcoal grilled octopus served with grinded rustic potatoes and unique Peruvian choclo corn, with a side of “Anticuchera Sauce”). Fantastic!
The very fresh Pulpo (Octopus) was beautifully plated and presented. It tasted so fresh and tender one would think they just caught it. Just looking at the tantalizing visual of this dish, in my mind I had already formulated what it was going to taste like. I was not disappointed! The Pulpo was tender, succulent, crispy on the outside and deliciously meaty inside, perfectly chewy, with a nice smokey flavor, and accompanied with side of tasty, flavor packed, golden yellow pepper Anticuchera sauce, that was perfect for dipping both the Pulpo and the potatoes. As I said, this was an appetizer, but it could have honestly been an entrée by itself.
For my entrée I decided to go with another traditional Peruvian dish, Seco De Carne C/Frijoles (Beef short ribs, cooked in traditional Northern Peruvian style w/rich cilantro and black beer sauce, served w/rice, beans and crilla salad). Mrs. Arrese informed me after I ordered it, that his was the second most ordered dish on their menu.
I love short ribs, and these were perfectly cooked; moist, succulent, with a savory umami deliciousness. The tender meat which fell off the bone at the touch of my fork, blended perfectly, and was enhanced with the accompanying sides and sauce, as well as with a separate side dish of nice, flaky white rice.
I was anxious to try the Crema Volteada De Lucuma (Lucuma flavored flan/custard) which I have heard is delicious, and quite different from the other style flans I am used to. But, being stuffed after devouring the generous sized portions of my other dishes I could not force another bite, so I guess that dessert will have to wait for another day.
As usual, I left Mr. Yellow Pepper with a full stomach and a smile on my face. Genuinely nice dining experience, delicious food and drink, beautiful restaurant, wonderful people, top-notch, friendly, accommodating, and professional service, and reasonable prices. What more can you want from a restaurant? Obviously, this is a restaurant that I would recommend giving a try.
As always, please try to come out and help support all our local, small independent businesses in any way you can.
Ample Parking, Take Out, Dine In, Delivery. Closed Monday.
Mr. Yellow Pepper Peruvian Restaurant is located at 450 North Beverwyck Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054. For more information call (973) 588-7254 or click here.
Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine – March 2021