Ceviche 181, a restaurant serving traditional Peruvian cuisine with a modern twist, hosted its grand opening ceremony last week after roughly four months in business.
Members of City Hall and Mayor Harp joined owners and patrons in celebrating this event, which the owners delayed until they could become accustomed to serving Elm City clientele.
As the general manager of the first Peruvian restaurant in Downtown New Haven, located at 181 Orange St., Mariella Ordoñez expressed a desire to familiarize local residents with her cuisine. The restaurant has served a variety of customers, including Peruvian-Americans, students and those who work in the vicinity. So far weekends and nights have been particularly busy, though the restaurant offers lunch specials as well, she said.
The Ceviche 181 menu boasts a myriad of options, including quinoa salad, grilled chicken and Peruvian-fusion fried rice. But the most popular dishes, and what many customers come to try, come from the eponymous ceviche bar.
Ceviche, a traditional seafood dish prepared with lime and other flavors such as cilantro, garlic and red pepper paste, comes highly recommended from executive chef Christian Bonilla. Bonilla brings 19 years of experience in the culinary industry, especially in cooking fish. His menu can be adapted to many different preferences, he said.
“We can make healthy food,” he said. “If you don’t like vegetables or meat, I can make it without it.”
Ceviche 181 serves fresh dishes and locally sourced products, Ordoñez said. Some delicacies like Peruvian corn and wine are also shipped directly from Peru, Bonilla said.
The restaurant, which showcases modern decor, is already considering new designs for the future, including a lounge area and full bar, he added. Bonilla also hopes to implement student and group discounts as well as happy hour specials and live music. Though Ceviche 181 opened too late to join New Haven Restaurant Week this year, Ordoñez said she hopes that the restaurant will participate next year.
Ellie Garland ’20 visited the restaurant after its grand opening. She said she enjoyed her purple corn drink, the Chicha morada, though the eatery was inconveniently located from her Old Campus dorm, she said.
“It’s a little far from campus but I would definitely go back,” she said. “I’ve never had Peruvian food before. It’s wonderful that Ceviche is diversifying the New Haven restaurant scene.”
Ceviche 181 is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.