Hot Dish: At MFR, Grass-Fed Beef Rules (Late-)Morning, Noon and Night
An Argentine steakhouse delights meat lovers in Naples.
When it comes to lunch these days, most prefer it light—mixed greens loaded with fresh veggies, minimal dressing, a crunch of nuts. But when the mood strikes for something heftier (perhaps after a long workout?), pay a visit to Martin Fierro Restaurant (MFR).
What started more than a decade ago as a butcher shop on Radio Road has morphed into an Argentine-style parrillada, or barbecue steakhouse, onLivingston Road. It’s not quite what you would think of for either a barbecue pit or a steakhouse (no pulled pork or sticky-sweet babyback ribs; no wedge salads, shrimp cocktail or potatoes au grain). It’s a uniquely South American breed of eatery, and the owners, a Uruguayan family, have nailed it: A giant charcoal grill beckons as you enter; the menu is predominantly beef; and, rather than a richness from béarnaise, steaks gets a kick from chimmichurri—a freshly chopped, or occasionally puréed, parsley and garlic sauce so versatile it goes with pretty much everything served there, from the empanadas (meat- or cheese-filled turnovers) to the toasted bread at the start the meal.
While MFR, named after a famous literary gaucho (Argentine cowboy), is an obvious choice for dinner because of the grass-fed Uruguayan Estancia-branded steaks among the best quality in town, lunch is the time to go for a truly authentic slice of South America at can’t-beat prices. Two of the aforementioned empanadas come with a coke and, yes, plenty of chimmichurri, for only $7, and the sandwiches, ranging in price from $9 to $12, are just want you’d find on vacation in Buenos Aires or Punta del Este. The “chivito” is an ultimate Uruguayan classic: a slab of beef tenderloin, sliced ham and tomato, a fried egg, melted mozzarella and a piece of lettuce wedged between grilled pressed Italian bread. (For those who have ventured to Argentina, this is not to be confused with their chivito, which is a type of goat cooked on a spit.) A lighter option (remember, this is all relative) is the Argentinian “churrasco,” a similar cut of beef with lettuce, tomato, mayo and shoestring fries also on warmed Italian bread. Or ask for a “choripan,” an off-menu treat that’s as Argentine as hot dogs are American—grilled butterflied sweet Italian sausage doused with chimmichurri, again (see a pattern here?) on a large piece of grilled Italian bread. Also, if they ask, avoid lettuce and tomato for the real-deal experience.
Martin Fierro Restaurant (MFR)
13040 Livingston Road, Suite 11
Naples, FL 34105