MORRIS COUNTY — Mexican food or Peruvian food, though similar but having distinctive characteristics in many ways, comes down to one’s preference. Peruvian food is a combination of Spanish, African, and Native American influences, utilizing a lot of fresh seafood, chilies, potatoes, corn, rice, and beans, while Mexican food, one of the most popular and diverse cuisines in the world, utilizes corn, beans and, cheese as their staples. Although both cuisines have meat and seafood dishes, Mexican food is more meat-based, while Peruvian food seems to lean towards fresh seafood. Fortunately, whichever one you prefer you will find one of your favorite dishes right off Route 46 East in Parsippany at the Garibaldi Peru-Mex Restaurant.
Another one of those small storefront eateries stuck in the middle of a small, nondescript strip mall right off the highway near the New Road intersection, Garibaldi is a true find. The restaurant specializes in both Peruvian and Mexican cuisine. It is not a fusion restaurant but offers a menu with Mexican dishes on one side and Peruvian on the other. And yes, the food is authentic, fresh, and homemade. Garibaldi has been a staple in Parsippany since 2010 when husband, Jorge, who comes from Peru, and wife, Gloria, who hails from Pueblo, Mexico (hence the mixed menu) opened their doors. Today, the business is still family-owned and run, with Jorge, Gloria, and daughter, Emily, still cooking and serving delicious and healthy food.
Garibaldi could certainly be described as a low-key venue. Nothing fancy here folks! This is not your white linen tablecloth type of place. A nice humble, unpretentious place with only eight simple Formica tables, linoleum floors, and delicious, personalized service, and home-style cooking. The interior, though plain, is exceptionally clean, cute, cozy, comfortable, and welcoming. The walls are a vibrant combination of orange, yellow and blue, and are thoughtfully decorated with assorted Peruvian and Mexican artifacts with live Aloe Vera plants lining the large exterior windows, all providing a nice ethnic ambiance. A large screen TV, on low volume, sits on a corner wall with a Spanish station playing. Reminds me of small eateries of this type you will find in one of our inner cities.
Stopped in with a group of friends and immediately noticed that everyone in the restaurant, which was crowded, was speaking Spanish. A great sign when going to a Peru-Mex restaurant! Our group grabbed a seat and began to peruse the menu as the lunch crowd was clearing out. Gloria, our host, and the server came over as we discussed what we would share as appetizers. Gloria, a very pleasant and friendly person who immediately made us feel very much at home, was helpful in suggesting our different options. We finally settled on servings of a combination of Marinated Pork Tacos and Brisket Tacos, Sausage Tostadas, and a serving of Ceviche Mixto Seafood.
The Tacos, wrapped with a soft, corn tortilla were fragrant, mouth-watering, moist, juicy, and packed with meat. No argument that both the pork and brisket were equally delicious. The open-faced spicy sausage Tostada, also served on a corn tortilla, was savory and went perfectly with the tasty Mexican homemade tangy Picante style sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and olives that it came topped with.
The Peruvian style Ceviche Mixto Seafood, which we ordered as one of our appetizers, had an ample amount of fresh, assorted fish, to satisfy our group of four. Ceviche, a mixture of fresh fish that is marinated with lemon juice, came with red onions, yams, and toasted corn kernels. It is a hot-button issue as to which country has the best Ceviche, but Peru claims it as their national dish and claims to have been enjoying it for over two thousand years. Yet, Mexican Ceviche still has many fans who would disagree. Typically, Mexican Ceviche is served with toasted chips and tomato sauce and uses shrimp, squid, or tuna. Peruvian Ceviche is less soup-like and served promptly on a plate after the fish marinates. All I can tell you is that the one we had tasted incredible and had great texture.
I should mention that Garibaldi is BYOB. Always looking to bring along something to authentically compliment the meal, I opted to bring along an American-Style Lager, Cusqueña, an all-malt beer with a pale straw color, and one of the most popular beers in Peru. It was tasty and refreshing.
My entrée was the Camarones a la Diabla, a very flavorful, juicy, spicy, tangy shrimp dish covered with a fiery, bright red chili chipotle sauce, with a side of white rice. As with all our dishes, it came with a nice presentation and stimulating fragrance. A nice-sized portion of medium-sized, perfectly prepared shrimp and rice. A succulent dish that I would happily order again. The Scoville heat scale in this dish may be a bit higher than some may like it so be careful when ordering.
Everyone else in the group decided to go with a traditional Peruvian favorite, the Lomo Saltado. Lomo Saltado is a popular Peruvian dish, a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of sirloin (or other beef steaks) with onions, tomatoes, French fries, and other ingredients; and is typically served with rice. One of the dishes was ordered with chicken in place of the meat. The feedback was extremely positive, and everyone enjoyed their individual dishes. The sides of homemade hot, sweet, and mayo/horseradish sauces and dips were also a treat and really enhanced the meal. If they would bottle them, I would buy them.
Dessert was a choice between Tres Leches Cake and Churros. We all chose the Tres Leches cake, arguably Mexico’s favorite dessert, along with a strong cup of coffee. This very moist sponge-type cake made from three kinds of milk (condensed, evaporated, and full cream) was jaw-droppingly delicious. A fantastic ending to a great meal.
So, if you are looking for a casual, low-key, relaxing meal that packs a great punch, offers nice-sized portions of delicious food at reasonable prices, you might just want to stop in at Garibaldi Peru-Mex restaurant.
In addition to hearty authentic dishes, they also offer Rotisserie chicken. I would encourage you to enjoy both Latin cuisines for yourself, your taste buds will appreciate it.
As always, please remember to support all our local businesses.
Buena comida, buenos amigos buenos tiempos!
Closed Sundays – Dine In – Take Out- No Delivery – BYOB – No Outdoor Dining – Ample Parking. 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Garibaldi Peru-Mex Restaurant is located at 107 Route 46 East, Parsippany. (973) 808-7028. www.garibaldiperumex.com
Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine – January 2022. Click here to view the complete magazine.