In a quiet little space on Anastasia Island, near the Bridge of Lions, sits a Peruvian restaurant aptly named the Llama.
Chef Marcel Vizcarra opened the eatery last year, just two weeks before Hurricane Mathew clipped the First Coast.
The Llama has 32 seats, including a bar serving Mimosas like the flower bomb made with prosecco, elderflower syrup and rose essence garnished with an orchid sphere bobbing in a martini glass. The dishes include a tender octopus carpaccio, traditional ceviche and tender braised beef with a touch of dark beer, yuccas and cilantro.
Vizcarra is completely dedicated to keeping his Peruvian food authentic. He even makes quarterly trips to Miami to pick up his South American beer selection. The meals can be paired with exotic red and white wines from Chile, Argentina and Spain.
Reservations are recommended, and if you’re interested in a tasting menu prepared in advance you can contact the restaurant for a culinary consultation. Catering is also offered.
Q&A WITH OWNER AND CHEF MARCEL VIZCARRA
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
Quaint, intimate and unique. The light is nice. We renovated everything before we opened: the floor, walls and ceiling. You will notice that we are an international staff preparing food from the multicultural country of Peru. The interior is simple and uncluttered, fresh.
What is your food philosophy?
The food is traditional and authentic with a twist. Many of the vegetables that grow in Peru will not grow here, so I import them to keep the dishes authentic while using local, seasonal ingredients. We are selling a multi-sensory experience, and love to see people’s reactions to the plates we create.
What types of cuisine do you specialize in?
Peru is a biodiverse melting pot. The Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Africans, to name a few, have settled there with the original tribes, bringing with them their culinary traditions. Add to that the variation of coastal, mountain and jungle geography and you have an eclectic menu.
What is your signature dish?
We have a select menu with appetizers, traditionals — such as smoked and marinated chicken and beef — and seafood specials like ceviche. I’d highlight the paiche seafood entree with Amazonian arapaima fish seasoned and wrapped in plantain leaves cooked over hot coals with yucca, plantains, hearts of palm and a passion fruit/cilantro sauce.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
Our papas consists of golden-potato slices covered with a traditional Amarillo pepper and cheese huancaina cream sauce. There are 2,000 different varieties of potatoes in Peru. For an entree, have the Peruvian style prawn chowder with giant Peruvian corn, golden potato, butternut squash, rice and a touch of huacatay black mint.