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Exclusive first look: Pikkas opens Monday in Cherry Creek

Among the many missions of Pikkas Peruvian Cuisine & Pisco Bar, a new Peruvian restaurant that will open on Monday in Cherry Creek, in the former Abrusci's space, is to house the largest pisco selection in the state of Colorado -- and that's just one of the major differences between Pikkas and Taita Peruvian Cuisine & Bar, the first Peruvian restaurant that chef and co-owner Pepe Aparicio, along with his brother, Gianfranco, opened in 2012 in Capitol Hill. "We're trying to track down as many piscos as we possibly can," says Tim Hopkins, the GM of Pikkas. "We want every single pisco we can get our hands on."

See also: Pikkas, a new Peruvian restaurant, opening in the former Abrusci's space in Cherry Creek

Pisco cocktails, of which there are eight, will be poured from behind a long granite bar, its backdrop of mosaic tiles a kaleidoscopic playground of colors that shimmer in the light. The interior of Pikkas is markedly different from its predecessor, although the Gianfrancos incorporated elements from Taita, including a bold color scheme of red, orange and yellow and original art painted by a local artist. A twenty-seat community table is the focal point in the bar area, while the dining room, outfitted with tables sheeted with chocolate-brown coverings, is more formal.

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And the food at Pikkas, says Pepe, is a bit more European in its roots than at Taita. "This is a new Peruvian concept that reflects the European influences in Peruvian cuisine, and that's what really differentiates this restaurant from Taita, which is more influenced by Japanese and Brazilian touches," he explains. Still, about 20 percent of the dishes mirrors the menu at Taita, although those dishes -- most of them Peruvian classics, notes Pepe -- will have different presentations and accompaniments, and a lot more grilled meats, including lamb, will have a presence, he adds. And Pepe will have a right-hand man, sous chef Kevin Perreault, who was the opening chef of Caffe Sanora, an Italian trattoria and bakery, in his kitchen.

Pikkas will be open for from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. In addition, there will be a daily happy hour with drink specials. "We have a rock-star bar staff, and they really know how to knock out a drink," promises Perreault, adding that most of the cocktails will benefit from a "South American flair."

While you're contemplating whether to drink a mojito or a pisco sour, take a journey through our photo gallery of the space.

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