“You, my friend,” I said to Mauricio, “are an Italian mother.”
Mauricio Vincenzi, the general manager at Lola’s Peruvian Restaurant in Glendale, smiled knowingly as he continued to bring delicious things for me to try. I came to Lola’s on Brand for a weekday lunch, and the ever-doting Vincenzi continually asked me if I would like to try this or that, if he could offer me anything else. “I don’t think I can eat anymore,” I’d tell him, and he’d reliably surface with another perfect plate saying, “Just a little bit. Just a taste.”
I wouldn’t have even known about Lola’s if Steve’s son, Silas, hadn’t chosen to do a school project on Peru. In a last minute panic, Steve called Lola’s to see if they could pick up some noms for Silas to bring for his presentation. Not only did Lola’s offer food, generosity, and guidance, they literally outfitted Silas in Peruvian gear:
Twelve years before that fateful assignment, the Balarezo brothers opened a Peruvian restaurant filled with their mother’s recipes and emblazoned with her name. Lola’s has been both a neighborhood lunch favorite and a romantic dinner spot ever since. In addition to traditional Peruvian fare like lomo saltado and ceviche, Lola’s integrates fresh, local, seasonal ingredients and updates their menu during the winter and summer.
Peruvian cuisine is continually intriguing and multi-dimensional as a result of the cultural melange that is Peru. You’ll find Latin, Caribbean, and Asian flavor profiles at Lola’s, and the inherently diverse nature of Peruvian food allows for endless and seamless fusion possibilities. This is one of the things that really drew Vincenzi into the Peruvian culinary landscape. Under his watchful eye, Lola’s has become a home away from home for their loyal clientele.
Although he’s not a blood relation to the restaurant’s namesake, Vincenzi has been there since the day they opened. He grew up in a food industry family (his parents owned a pasta factory and bakery) and to Lola’s he brings, heart, soul, and a hunger for innovation. I can’t name a single other Peruvian restaurant that makes damn near every element of every dish in-house and is also bringing in nitro cold brew on tap.
Vincenzi and his generosity are what brought me in, but every single thing he served me was, in and of itself, reason enough to come back. The fresh bread slathered in aji, a Peruvian chile sauce, freshly made maracuya and chicha morada (passion fruit juice and a spiced purple corn drink, respectively), slow roasted pork with fried plantains, homemade coconut flan, and after I’d secretly popped a button, a perfect headed little cortadito.
Lola’s Peruvian Restaurant is located at 230 N. Brand Ave, Glendale CA 91203. They’re open Monday from 11:30 am-4 pm, Tuesday-Thursday from 11:30 am-9 pm, Friday from 11:30 am-10 pm, Saturday from 12 pm-10 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm-9 pm. Lola’s is a great idea any time, but take note of their lunch specials and the live music they have on Friday nights. You can reach them by phone at (818) 956-5888.