The Winchester Star

Winchester — Anyone who walks by Aroma Deli and Coffee Bar while the meat is cooking knows that the restaurant lives up to its name.

Catch it at the right time of day and the smell of charcoal-fired rotisserie meat will fill the air around the restaurant at 201 E. Boscawen St. — which is exactly the way owner Leivi Mazariegos likes it.

The name of the restaurant comes from the different flavors of the chicken,” he said. “If you walk outside, you can almost taste the chicken. When you smell something it is not just the smell, it is the aroma.”

While Peruvian rotisserie chicken is not the only item on the menu, it is the cornerstone of the small deli’s offerings. It can be found throughout the menu, served on the bone on a platter with side dishes, shredded and put on sandwiches or tacos, or sliced to top a salad.

The recipe, which Mazariegos created, will be familiar to people who have eaten at Peru’s Chicken, a restaurant off Valley Avenue that belongs to his brother Gilberto Mazariegos.

Leivi Mazariegos managed the restaurant for six months when it was opened in 2009 by another brother Eliseo Mazariegos, who has since moved to Texas.

The signature chicken is marinated overnight in a secret sauce whose ingredients Mazariegos doesn’t even hint at revealing. Once in the oven, which is heated to 350-400 degrees, the chickens cook rotisserie-style over natural wood charcoal for about 90 minutes.

As with much of the menu, the chicken reflects Mazariegos’ Latin American heritage — he is originally from Guatemala — and experience working in various Hispanic restaurants. But it also shows how he has tried to blend the tastes of Latin America with a more American-style menu.

He opened the deli May 23 to have a place of his own and to be closer to home, he said. He was commuting to Sterling, so he hopes the lack of drive time will free more time for his family. His wife Claudia Sanchez often helps in the restaurant.

Aroma serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all day, he said. Customers may eat in the dining room or the outside area or order the food for takeout. “I want to keep it simple right now. Most of my customers want fast and good service, so that is what I am focused on doing.”

The service starts first thing in the morning, when the restaurant serves a small selection of breakfast sandwiches and platters, said Willian Hernandez, the cook who handles breakfast.

Customers have a choice of egg and cheese sandwiches served with ham, bacon, or sausage, he said. The bacon is baked rather than fried and the sandwiches are made with fresh eggs, which makes a difference.

The best thing about fresh eggs is they taste better,” Hernandez said.

The sandwiches are served on a croissant or a bagel (onion, sesame, or plain). The bread is good, but doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the sandwich, he said.

Other breakfast offerings include a sausage burrito — filled with sausage, egg, hash browns and cheddar cheese — or the Aroma Platter, which has scrambled eggs, sausage, egg, hash browns, and toast.

Although the rest of the menu is still relatively brief, Mazariegos tried to pack in plenty of choices.

Aroma’s soft tacos and burritos can be ordered with a choice of chicken, beef, or pork, he said. Each has a special marinade. Both are filled with black beans, rice and lettuce, but the tacos also have salsa, cheese and sour cream.

The beef and pork are cooked in a pot with water and a marinade until it is soft enough that it can be shredded by hand after it cools. The meat must be cooked a day before it is served to allow it to cool and the flavors to really set in, he said.

The same choice of meat is found with Aroma’s Mixed Bowl, which features rice, black beans, lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream.

In the rest of the menu, the rotisserie chicken’s influence is heavily felt. The Chicken on Ciabatta features white rotisserie chicken, lettuce, tomato, roasted peppers, provolone cheese and a mayonnaise-pesto sauce on ciabatta bread.

The peppers are for taste, not spice. “Nothing is spicy here.”

Other sandwiches include the turkey or roast beef on baguette; both are spread with Aroma’s special sauce, he said.

The chicken is also on the grilled chicken salad — after it leaves the rotisserie, the meat is grilled for two minutes to add searing and flavor, Mazariegos said.

The restaurant offers plates with a quarter, half or whole chicken, and diners can enjoy the rich brown color. All of the plates are served with two side dishes.

Mazariegos won’t reveal the ingredients in the black beans, which have some secret items along with the cumin, fresh garlic, onions and salt. The beans can be ordered individually, or in a smaller amount served on white rice, which still counts as one side dish.

The corn salsa is a fresh specialty — the corn is mixed with two kinds of onions, lemon juice, cilantro and salt. Other side dishes are potato salad, a house salad and coleslaw.

The desset menu has room for expansion, which now has sugar, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, he said. Mazariegos wants to add more Latin American selections, including flan, tres leches and alfajor — a type of sandwich cookie with caramel in the center.

A Latin American presence is included in the restaurant’s specialty beverage menu. It features coffee beans from Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and Peru, all ground fresh daily. The house blend is a mixture of beans from several countries made by Greenberry’s Coffee Co. in Charlottesville.

Mazariegos came to the United States from Guatemala in 1998 when he was 16 and on a student visa. He has been working in Peruvian restaurants since that time.

He tried working in construction, which made more money, but realized cooking was his passion.

The last place he worked before opening Aroma was at The Pollo Factory in Sterling, a Peruvian restaurant that also serves rotisserie chicken. He liked the work but not the commute and wanted the challenge of owning his own business.

This is what I like,” he said. “I really like cooking. I am happy to do this.”

Information

Aroma Deli and Coffee Bar at 201 E. Boscawen St. in Winchester is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 540-545-4627.

Source:

Laura McFarland

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  The Winchester Star  
PUBLICATION: Winchester Star, The (VA)

SECTION: Life

DATE: June 19, 2013

Page: 6