A piece of Argentina in Coconut Grove

Featured, Restaurants — By on April 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Coconut Grove is full of outside dining opportunities, but at El Churrasquito Argentino, you’ll want to spend as much time inside as possible.

That’s how beautiful this place is. The restaurant resembles a scene straight out of the Argentinean countryside. Small balconies line around the perimeter of the restaurant, making you feel as if you’re right in the middle of a booming, bright-lit village. A gorgeous spiral staircase leads upstairs where a glistening bar waits, offering impressive selections of both Argentinean and Italian wines. A private party room is also upstairs, which you’re able to rent out for big parties and events.

El Churrasquito Argentino’s owner, Omar Rivas, opened a similar restaurant in Madrid in 2001. Showcasing a mix of Italian-influenced dishes and a commitment to quality, the restaurant flourished. So much so that Rivas turned to Miami to open another eatery.

“There’s so much life here,” he said. “It’s the perfect location.”

Argentinean cuisine borrows heavily from Italy. That being said, pasta dishes like gnocchi and spaghetti can be found, served with a freshly made signature sauce of your choice. Stray from the red sauce you’re used to and try something different like a mushroom cream sauce. The Amatriciana sauce might sound new, but it’s a traditional Italian sauce that combines bacon with tomatoes and herbs. You can choose between eight different types of sauces to go with your house-made pasta.

The location mimics the feeling of eating outside in Argentina.

The location mimics the feeling of eating outside in Argentina. Photos by Leoncio Alvarez

It’s all in the name. The restaurant is named after el churrasco, Argentina’s select steak, so you know some delectable cuts of meat are being served. A 14-ounce skirt steak, or Entraña Argentina, is cooked to order and is not the same as flank steak. If you didn’t know that, now you do. The first is pretty lean, with almost little to no fat. That means, the longer it’s cooked, the tougher it gets. Flank steak, on the other hand, is even less fatty than skirt steak, so it’s recommended to order rare or medium-rare.

Rivas says there’s no way you’ll leave disappointed after trying any one of them.

“For meats and pasta, nobody does it better than us,” he said.

Along with steaks, there are also other meat options to tempt all carnivores. Corderito Patagonico is a succulent lamb leg cooked osso bucco style with wine and a medley of vegetables. Soft, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs, Tira de Asado, will be like velvet in your mouth.

If that’s too much meat for you, the Parrillada de Verduras, combines an assortment of grilled Mediterranean vegetables on your plate. For soup lovers, the creamy lobster bisque is prepared fresh everyday and serves as the ideal starter to any lunch or dinner. And for just a little bit of meat with your greens, go for the avocado and prosciutto salad served with a colorful mango sauce.

There are four dishes that are must-haves, specifically recommended by the restaurant’s head chef. One is the simple, yet flavorful chicken marsalla. This dish has been sautéed perfectly in the favorite Italian wine.

The other dishes are risotto variations. Risotto is the quintessential Italian and Argentinean rice dish. At El Churrasquito Argentino, it comes in a variety of options. This includes Rissotto ai Fungi with a selection Porcini and button mushrooms. Risotto al Asparagus is cooked with bright, crisp bits of asparagus and the champagne risotto skips on the wine and uses some bubbly to cook the rice in. Try some of that one with the Bistecca Tagliata, sliced sirloin steak served with demi-glazed mushrooms and a vibrant green peppercorn sauce.

For dessert, traditional Argentinean crepes, or panqueques, are filled with either decadent dulce de leche, or flambéed apples.  Peras a la Borgoña is a great way to end your meal if you’re counting calories. Here, pears are softened in a red Argentinean wine along with cinnamon, cloves and other spices that make the fruit extra flavorful. A classic tiramisu with a hint of coffee and delicious Italian panna cotta custard are also available to make you salivate.

The next time you are craving exceptional meats, pastas, desserts and much more, head to Coconut Grove for a table at El Churrasquito Argentino. The staff tries its best to accommodate any dietary requests or substitutions that are attempted. You can rest assured that your meal will be prepared how you like it.

El Churrasquito Argentino on Urbanspoon

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