The logo at Cecci Italian Peruvian Kitchen is a fish eating a slice of pizza, symbolizing the union of sea and land here. There are pies, pastas and tiraditos, ceviches and saltados (stir-fries) plus creations like pizza a lo macho topped with seafood cream, octopus, shrimp and calamari, and fettuccine in ají amarillo-spiked huancaina cheese sauce served with steak.
Peruvian-Italian chef and owner Daniela Salerno Bernaza runs the fast-casual place with her husband, Octavio “Chino” Bernaza, son Cesare Salerno and Ecuadorean-born daughter-in-law Stephanie Pasternak. The family got into the business 15 years ago when Daniela inherited a hacienda in the town of Chaclacayo, east of Lima. They turned it into a restaurant named for her father, Cecci (“chechee”), and expanded to Miami Beach a month ago. Like many Peruvian families, Daniela’s immigrated from Italy after World War II, bringing their culinary traditions and adapting them to new ingredients.
Start here with cevichitos (mini ceviches) at $1.50 a pop including grouper with red onions, avocado chunks and crunchy cancha corn kernels or scallop bits in pisco sauce under a broiled Parmesan crust. Causitas are mashed potato cakes stuffed with chicken, grilled octopus or shrimp , rolled into logs and cut into small slices like sushi, topped with flavored creams. Plate-size ravioli squares are filled with ají de gallina (spiced, shredded chicken) napped in béchamel with olive and onion salsa. There’s also ceviche pizza with citrus-marinated shrimp on mozzarella, and the Doña Paula sandwich with crisp fried pork and sweet potatoes in Creole sauce.
Lucuma mousse, made with an Andean fruit that tastes like butterscotch and dates, sweetly folds Peru into a European dessert.