It's a story everyone has heard before: Renzo Salini worked in real estate, and when the bubble started to burst in 2006, he decided to get out of housing and open a restaurant, SaxSay Deli.
While he certainly wasn't the first or only person to do so, he was one of the lucky ones -- he succeeded. What started out as a small Peruvian deli with 40 sandwiches and five signature dishes quickly turned into a home-style Peruvian restaurant serving around 40 traditional menu items with about five sandwiches.
After more than five years in business, Salini and his wife, Claudia Pinglo, decided to pack up shop and move to a larger location earlier this year, just down the street, renaming the restaurant SaxSay Cafe.
While the food and the concept has remained much the same, Salini and Pinglo have brought on partners to help with the expansion process: longtime customers and married couple Monica Delgado and Sergio Patrucco, and old friends Marco and Roxanna Kahn.
Together the team has made improvements thanks to customer suggestions from the comment box, such as separating the open kitchen from the dining room -- in the old locations, some customers complained that while they loved eating the food, they didn't love the smell of it on their clothes after leaving -- and changing out the tables and chairs for more comfortable seating. Another issue was the A/C: In the old location, the open kitchen and packed house would often present problems with the store's only air-conditioning unit; here they've preemptively installed additional units.
Currently, the crew is working on expanding the concept event further with a sport's room with pool tables and foosball to watch soccer games and hopefully drink pisco sours and chicanos one day -- because the traditional drinks include pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy, they are awaiting a special license from the state.
"In another two or three months, we are hoping to get into more catering with onsite baptisms and other family events," said Salini. "We have the license, but we haven't been promoting it, because we want to settle in; we went from 1,200 to 4,800 square feet. This place is four times the size of our last location."
With the name derived from the Quechua -- the dialect of the remaining Inca in Peru --
term for "to eat and be satisfied," the menu consists of hearty and well-portioned options ranging from ceviche ($11.99) to traditional beef dishes like lomo saltado ($15.49) with onions, tomatoes, and French fries in a soy-based sauce to classics like aji de gallina ($11.49), a chicken dish made with the famous yellow Peruvian chilies.
"We want to keep the prices more affordable," said Pinglo. "We have people that come every day for lunch, especially from offices."
To keep the office workers coming in, the spot offers a special lunch menu full of hearty lunch items for less than $10 on Monday through Friday. Items include traditional dishes like the tallarin verde and carne ($9.75), a pasta with steak and a green sauce somewhat similar to pesto; jalea mixta ($9.75), a mixed seafood dish similar to paella; and fish ceviche ($8.50).
While the restaurant has been picking up with its old customers, Salini and Pinglo would love to see more Peruvian food novices.
"We would love to see more Americans come in to try our food," said Pinglo. "We live in your country; we want to share our culture and our different kinds of food with you, especially our home-style food."
SaxSay Cafe is located at 8425 W. Commercial Blvd. in Tamarac. Call 954-532-1245, or visit facebook.com/Saxsay.Peruvian.Cusine.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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