Mauricio Valverde’s classmates are probably jealous of him. The 24-year-old is currently a student at the Miami Culinary Institute in Downtown and is already running his own restaurant. He’s offering his take on Peruvian fusion at Rizio’s, focusing on Novo-Andino cuisine which has become quite popular in Peru. The restaurant has been open since Nov. 17, but Valverde’s culinary vision has been forming for quite some time.
Q: Where did the idea for Rizio’s come from?
A: The idea is a mix of me and my father’s. He’s been wanting to open a restaurant for a while now here in Miami. My concept is fine dining. My dad’s concept is Peruvian food. He opened a restaurant back in Peru in 1996, so he has the know-how. I bring the cooking.
Q: How did you get started in food?
A: I love food. I started cooking at the age of 17. I learned from seeing others in the kitchen. I really learned from my grandmother, though. The first dish I remember making was chicken parmesan for my sister.
Q: Can you talk a little about the menu?
A: I’m all about fusion. I like bringing in Italian, Asian, French aspects into my cooking. But here, you can find a mix of Peruvian and Italian. We have some great quinoa dishes, which are a little healthier than beans. We have a colorful trio of ceviches served according to the spice level you like. Tiraditos are small sashimi-style slices. You can get those with fish, octopus and a shrimp one is in the works.
Q: What made you choose North Miami to open your restaurant?
A: There aren’t a lot of restaurants in the area doing fusion. I’m making inspired Peruvian food in a casual, fine dining setting. I want people to look at a dish and think it is beautiful, but to then say it tastes even better than it looks.
A version of this article was published in MyCityEats.