Virbila is Moved by Picca; Gold Feels The Heat at Guisado's

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Ricardo Zarate Superstar Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

When it comes to Peruvian food, S. Irene Virbila strokes our egos at Picca, much like Gold did last week, telling us that "we're ahead of the curve here in L.A." Noting how much we all love Ricardo Zarate, "a bona fide crossover star" of the genre, Sherry is excited by the "electric" energy at Picca, which "delights with bold combinations of flavors and textures," though she feels "The same elements — sauces, ingredients, techniques — repeat perhaps too much," even if she still counts herself "a big fan." The most lively piece of writing from Virbila in a while. These alternate weeks-off have transformed her, blowing our minds when she admits the place is too damn loud, but offers, "such a sense of fun that you'd have to be a real curmudgeon to mind." Wow! She gives Zarate's "gutsy modern Peruvian cooking" two-and-a-half stars and a well-deserved shout to the blood, sweat, and tears of manager Stephane Bombet. [LAT]

Jonathan Gold finally gets over to Boyle Height's Guisado's and tries the chiles torreados, which are not of the common variety here, but a "natural phenomenon, superspicy serranos mostly, glistening and pungent, cooked with strands of onion and slyly boosted with a few slivers of what seem to be roasted habanero peppers." This third restaurant from the family behind Dorado's and Cook's Tortas is a taco lover's dream, while this particular example "could go 15 rounds with Oscar De La Hoya" and is cheating on you, but only because it loves you. Or something all "smile now, cry later" like that. [LAW]

Looking for angulas, aka Spanish eels served like pasta? Delicious as they are, Jonathan Gold thinks we shouldn't be eating the endangered critters until their babies can wiggle around freely, though you'll find a decent version at La Paella for $55. We can't believe he's saying it either, but he then recommends a place for faux vegetarian Spanish eels, also at La Paella. [LAW]