Mr. Pio Pio

I have been to Mr. Pio Pio, and I have seen the light. Actually, I didn’t really need to see any lights, because when Celina Bean waxes so poetically about fried snapper, how else can you feel by “Oh my gosh I need to get there.” ?

To make it even better, I got to have lunch with Miss Celina Bean herself. One heck of an introduction, if there ever was one. We pretty much settled on the fried whole snapper. Celina loves it, and I had to order it after reading so much about its deliciousness from her.

But first there were chicharrones. Oh, where there chicharrones. $2.90 gets you a side dish of heaven on a plate. Crispy fried bits of pork belly. So crunchy. So fatty. So good. They were out of the red sauce, but had a green avocado sauce on the side. I could slather that sauce on just about everything, and it would be fine with me.

OH MY GOSH, do you see how beautiful those porky little babies are? Porky nuggets o’goodness! Alternating layers of meat and fat under insanely crisp skin. A little meat here, a little melty fat there. A big smile on my face. I showed surprising restraint and didn’t eat all of them before the main course came out.

SNAPPAH!!!

It comes with this tomato-onion slaw on top, and plantains & yucca. We asked for extra yucca on our dish subbed in for plantains, and got them no problem. Yucca > Plantains any day in my book (sorry plantains. You’re good, but no match for fried yucca). So good! I think this was about $20, but it feeds two people.

It doesn’t come with a side, so if you want rice & beans or a little something else, you’ve gotta order it as an extra. Celina got some rice & beans (~$3). I’m not a big rice fan, so I stuck with the chicharrones because I am very healthy like that.

So deep fried snapper is awesome. I mean, it’s seafood, so it’s inherently awesome to begin with, but fried… oh. So good. And it didn’t taste greasy. Like, at all. It stayed light and crispy through the whole meal. Moist, tender fish, crispy outsides. What’s not to live? That tomato-onion slaw was awesome, too. A little tart kick to go with the fish.

Celina was also awesome and let me crunch away on the tail. The ends were so fried they were like a crunchy little snack! Yum, yum, yum.

Under $30 (pre-tip) for a huge lunch for two people? Oh heck yeah, sign me up.

Well, now I’ve got to go back to try the red sauce and the chicken dishes.

7 comments
  1. E said:

    Yummmmmmm! My friend Dan's been suggesting going here all summer, guess it's time to make it happen 🙂

    I'm glad to read you had the tail, by the way. Because I had whole fried snapper on vacation, which was awesome, but I wasn't sure where to stop eating! I ate some tail myself. I figured if it was fried crispy enough to chew easily, I'd eat it. Right?

  2. JMP said:

    Aw, I love the pay-it-forward version of dining. A friend introduced me to Pio Pio, and then I introduced Celina and a few friends, who are now promoting it to others. Love it. You need to try the red sauce though – it's my favorite. So spicy!

  3. JMP said:

    Oh and one more thing: the arroz con pollo is one of the best deals in Albany. I think it costs about $7.95 but it's usually enough for me to eat for dinner and then two lunches' worth.

  4. I had a whole fried flounder at My Linh on Delaware and it was a very similar experience. Glad to hear Pio Pio's also good – I've always been scared away by the 1980's marketing!

  5. Jennifer said:

    Love Mr. Pio Pio. Love the batidas. Love the carne asada. My only complaint is it's in Albany. I would so be a regular if they were in Saratoga.

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