Fountain Square’s new Mama Irma Restaurant (1058 Virginia Ave., 317-423-2421) is a tribute to the diverse cuisine of Peru. Dish titles are in Peruvian Spanish, but the plates have Spanish, Japanese, African, and Italian influences. Diners can get a taste of that diversity in dishes ranging from citrus-soaked ceviche (the Peruvian national dish) to the native favorite lomo saltado, a warm toss of steak, veggies, and French fries. (And everything tastes better with a dollop or dip of the smooth Peruvian yellow sauce that swaddles the papas a la huancaina and a number of other plates.) The sheer expanse of flavors that Peruvian cooking incorporates is obvious from the seafood feasts, sticky tallarin noodles, fried rice, and battered Yucca root that emerge steaming from the kitchen.
Owner Jose Orozco sees the family venture as a way to bring more of the Peruvian culture to Indianapolis. “We felt like the people in Indianapolis needed to understand the history, the culture, and the culinary art behind a Peruvian dish,” says Orozco, whose mother, Hilda, is the chef at Mama Irma. But Orozco says everyone in his family learned how to make these meals from his African-Peruvian grandmother–Mama Irma–whose photo hangs on the back wall of the warm, golden dining room. “We’re just trying to live up to our grandma’s expectations,” Orozco says.