Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Pio Pio
Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens, NYC
Review by Susu

This place is a hole in the wall. The menu consists of six items: marinaded rotisserie-cooked chicken ... yellow rice .... tostones ... salchepapas .... salad .... hey, maybe they only have five things....

Whatever. The items they serve are done extremely well. It's a Peruvian chicken joint, with about 8 tables of many sizes filling their serving space. It's ALWAYS full, with a long line of people queued up at the take-out nook in the back. Everyone gets in each other's ways, young men on a first date try to impress their sweethearts that they can get a table, families chatter over the heaped plates of food while they demolish the contents, the air is filled with a mix of Latin Spanish and broken English, all shouted at "Frau Farbissina" intensity. It's general mayhem, but I mean that in a beautiful, loving way!

The commercial rotisserie in the tiny galley kitchen holds about 20 chickens at a time. Between the orders at the little restaurant and the demands of take-out, the chickens never seem to get a chance to overcook. So sometimes, you have to wait and wait to get your order filled. But we promise, it's worth it! Just ask any of the Hispanic people waiting with you.

The chicken is simply tossed into a bucket of vinegar and spices for however long. When there is a skewer available, four of the fryer-sized whole chickens are laced on, secured and exposed to the open fire. The cook shifts the mega skewers around to give all the little critters a chance to bathe in different amounts of heat. The result is a juicy, tasty bird with fall-from-the-bones flesh and a succulent, flavory skin. You can buy the birds by the piece or whole. The whole bird runs about $8. Buy one of the combos. We normally choose "the Matador" -- a whole chicken, yellow rice, tostones (fried plaintains, which are a big, starchy banana), salchepapas (french fries cooked with hot dog bits), and salad (lettuce, onions, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers in a vinegary dressing). The chicken is served with Pico de Gallo, a spicy green sauce (at least here, it is). We normally have Inca Cola -- the Peruvian national drink -- with our big meal.

All of this food -- enough to feed at least four big eaters -- costs about $28. We sometimes take two chickens to go, at $8 apiece. Sides range from $3 for the rice, to $6 for the heftier items. Bring a date for a smaller meal, or go all out and be oinkers. It won't break the bank and you'll gain a reputation of being "in the know" for taking him or her to this delicious, popular, ethnic hole-in-the-wall.

Oh wait, i just remembered the sixth item: rice and red beans! How could I forget that Latin standby?

You'll recognize the place easily -- on the end of a row of shops in a residential neighborhood, it's got a bright blue awning with a big yellow cartoon of a baby chicken wearing big saddle shoes, and the wording "Pio Pio: Pollos con Brasas." The interior is bright, sunny yellow too, sponged with ochre, in an attempt to simulate a cheerful stone, I think. There is another "Pollos con Brasas" down the street, but don't be fooled! Anyway, that place is always empty, while Pio Pio is hopping! Go in, and experience it for yourself!


Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. Enjoy!