A new family Peruvian restaurant has opened on Lombard, serving passionfruit Pisco sours, super fresh ceviches, and classic dishes. Casa Zoraya opened without announcement in May, helmed by a family of Andina alumni: Zoraya Zambrano and her children, Gary and Gloria Marmanillo, all worked at the restaurant; in fact, Zambrano started two weeks before the Peruvian mainstay opened 15 years ago.
Since Gary Marmanillo moved to the United States in 2012, the chef has worked in a number of notable Portland restaurants, including DOC, Can Font, and Paiche. Marmanillo discovered his love of restaurants while his sister was in culinary school; on a visit from medical school in Bolivia, he spent hours watching her doing homework, peeling potatoes and filleting fish. He didn’t return to Bolivia.
Years later, when the family reunited in Portland, Zambrano decided it was the time to open Casa Zoraya: Both of her children were working in restaurants, with Gloria focusing on the front of house and her son cooking across town. While driving to brunch at his sister’s house, Marmanillo spotted the for sale sign in Casa Zoraya’s then-vacant window. The rest of the family was still very casual about achieving a lifelong dream of opening a family restaurant, but when they stepped inside the turn-key space, with its garden and cozy feel, everyone knew this was the time. “It felt special,” Zambrano says, sitting at the bar of her now-open restaurant. “It fit my family.”
With its sky-blue accents and woven pillows and tapestries, Casa Zoraya serves a small menu of Peruvian delights, from vegan ceviche and vegetarian causa, a layered potato dish, to classics like rich seco de cordero (lamb shank with cilantro sauce) or lomo saltado (beef cooked with tamari and tomato). “We try to serve both styles, old school and new school,” chef Marmanillo says.
The bar sticks to Pisco cocktails, including an assortment of sours with passionfruit, ginger-infused pisco, and chicha morada, a Peruvian drink made with purple corn, pineapple, and cinnamon. The bar also serves the Cholita, a pisco drink made with strawberry, lemon, and cava — an invention of Marmanillo’s partner and Casa Zoraya team member Gwen Holle. Gloria Marmanillo says the restaurant hopes to become a full Pisco bar, with a wider selection of the Peruvian white brandy. For now, the team continues to learn, thrilled by the response. “I’m happy, because people eat everything,” Zambrano says. “I can tell they like it by the empty plates.”
Casa Zoraya is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4 p.m. to close Fridays and Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays for brunch, complete with ceviche-topped toasts.