The owners of Delicia have faced two years of legal fighting over its liquor license and parking lot, but the time was not wasted. The upscale casual restaurant finally opened its doors on March 5 and already feels like a neighborhood institution.
Owned by some of the same people responsible for Northside Social, Delicia fills what had long been a vacant property. Designer Nancy Ficca, also a Delicia partner, has created an atmosphere that is chic, contemporary and comfortable, with painted brick walls, exposed wooden beams and cushioned bench seating.
There's a buzz in the restaurant as customers discover new dishes, and even introduce recipes to the staff. "We have had so much great neighborhood support," operating partner Nicole Harlan-Oprisu says. "We want people from the neighborhood to feel comfortable walking or riding their bike over, and having some guacamole and margaritas. We'll change the menu up a few times a year and keep it fresh. There are so many dishes we want to do."
The menu, years in the making, is a fresh take on Latin food and culture from executive chef Miguel Cordero and chef de cuisine Ricardo Martinez. It combines the culinary traditions of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain into a blend the restaurant describes as "new Latin."
"There just wasn't anything like it in the neighborhood, or really in the city, that melds all the different styles of Latin cuisine," Harlan-Oprisu says. "There are things on our menu that are traditional and familiar to customers, and definitely some things that are not. We can accommodate everyone's desire to explore."
One meal begins with an amuse-bouche of Sancocho, a traditional Latin American soup. It's rich and flavorful, an excellent introduction to the menu. The guacamole is also worth trying. Delicia adds pistachios to their guac, and the subtle nuttiness of the pistachios complements the avocado, not a combination I had ever tasted before.
Another standout is the Tostones con Longaniza. Delicia had trouble importing longaniza, a traditional sausage found in many Latin cultures, from the Dominican Republic, so the restaurant has worked with the sausage experts at Goose the Market to create it in town.
For entrees, the Chile en Nogada is a well-done, traditional Mexican dish not often seen around Indianapolis. It's a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with beef, walnuts, apricots, and seasoned with cinnamon, with a goat cheese sauce and pomegranate reduction. The effect - sweet and savory, fruity and meaty - is delicious.
Delicia has a number of seafood options as well, such as Tapou, a coconut stew with red snapper and roasted vegetables. The fish tacos have also proven to be extremely popular. "We've sold a million of them," Harlan-Oprisu says.
Among desserts, the Tres Leches cake is wonderful, with a guava compote topping that gives the creamy cake a tangy counterpoint. Order it with the cinnamon-flavored Mexican coffee.
Delicia also features a full bar, including a number of wines, beers, and craft cocktails, such as the Pisco Sour, a popular South American cocktail made with pisco (a type of South American brandy), lime juice, bitters, simple syrup, and optional egg white (get it with the egg white).
Though Delicia is only open for dinner and late night, owners plan to develop the space next door in the coming months. Their plan is to create a more casual, cantina-style restaurant that will be open for lunch.
[Food+Drink] Dining Out