By Bill Citara
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By Carla Torres
Finding Zuperpollo Biztro the first time didn't take quite as long as it took the starship Voyager, marooned in the Delta Quadrant, to locate Earth again. But it was close. Or at least it seemed that way. Nestled inside an office building -- all the way through the long lobby, past the elevator banks and a uniformed guard at an intimidating-looking security desk -- the restaurant has no sign outside except, on the nearest corner, a small sandwich board ... which is removed midafternoon when the café closes. It's a stealth bistro.
As the zilly zpelling indicates, the Biztro is a spinoff of the old-timer (since 1986) Uruguayan eatery Zuperpollo, which was conceived as a chicken joint named Superpollo. Changed to the Zorro-ish name because the Superman/chicken moniker was already taken, the original Coral Way restaurant has actually become more renowned for its beefy parrillada offerings -- and for its boisterous Saturday-night Latin karaoke parties. Neither is present at Zuperpollo Biztro, a tiny breakfast/lunch-only spot with a smaller menu. But the place was packed on two recent visits.
Frankly even the new bistro's limited menu is more of an optimistic wish list than a representation of what diners can order. During a couple of recent visits, only one of six listed desserts and three of a dozen alleged appetizers were available. Of the three starters, homemade chicken soup was the winner, packed with white meat chunks plus potatoes, corn on the cob wheels, and thin fideo noodles (which would have been less mushy if they had been added just before serving). It was truly a full meal; many take-out lunchers ordered soup only. Ham and chicken croquetas were okay, though heavy, and a meat empanada (one of three varieties listed but the only one available) was decent -- a deep-fried Argentine-style half-moon containing ground beef featuring tiny bits of green olive, hard-boiled egg, and red pepper.
Lasagna casera, a Uruguayan favorite, was on the roster of homemade pastas, but unavailable. Instead, at a server's recommendation, I ordered housemade cannelloni stuffed with spinach and chicken. The filling was sparse, but the tomato sauce proved unusually zesty.
As for sandwiches, homemade choripan, sadly, wasn't obtainable -- ever, said our server. But Uruguay's most classic creation, the chivito, was sinfully satisfying. Loaded with steak, ham, bacon, hard-boiled egg, mozzarella, somewhat rubbery mushrooms, and saut'ed red peppers, it was truly, in the most gratifying way, a heart attack on a bun. The chivaburger, a Biztro creation not on the menu at the original Zuperpollo, came with identical toppings; the beef patty was meatball-like, but quite tasty.
Best were a filete de pezcado special, two fresh fish fillets fried in eggy chili rellenolike light batter; and the signature pollo paztor, a quarter chicken. The rotisserie is back at the larger, original location, but both dark meat and white survived reheating with aplomb. Even the breast/wing quarter was beautifully juicy, especially with the addition, suggested by a server, of some savory olive-packed fricassee sauce spooned on top.
All entrées come with two sides (changing daily, but including steamed mixed vegetables, smooth mashed potatoes, and excellent veggie-packed yellow rice) that vary in portion size. But roast chicken fans who use the universal language -- a smile -- to communicate with the Spanish-speaking counter woman can score a lunch large enough to doggy-bag as dinner for less than five bucks.