Saturday, June 20, 2009

Naples Martin Fierro Argentinian Uruguayan Steak House Parillada

As you enter, your eyes open wide, your nostrils flare as you inhale, and you’re ready to dig into a sizzling steak, on the spot! It’s the rich, smoky smell, the siren’s call, a carnivore’s signal that this delivers great grilled food. Opened a few years in a neighborhood strip mall, with their popular butcher shop next door, Martin Fierro exudes latin warmth, offering serious steaks, chicken and pork.

Last week, when Colombia’s soccer team was playing Argentina, the place was packed with fans glued to the wide TVs. This time, I came with two friends, er, carnivores and three robust appetites. The place can seat >35 folks easily, on comfortable leather and wood chairs at wooden tables. The light brown walls are decorated with a cricket bat, stirrups, photos and Uruguayan and Argentinian soccer paraphernalia. Your mind keeps saying, “Just get the steaks, already!” Listen to it. Your nose, honed from thousands of years of open fire pits, primevally knows this is right for you. You’lll soon be satiated.

We sat, and ordered Corona Beers ($3). Drawn like mountain lions by the scent and flames to the open kitchen’s grill, .we walked over, inhaled deeply, and stared. Yes, it smells THAT good. The chef works with different levels of heat, below skewers, and with a flat grill for some steaks. He’s friendly-he even took a photo of us at the grill-how often does that happen in Naples? The menu is built around the grilled offerings, known as a parrillada in Argentina and Uruguay. Prices are very good for large portions. Appetizers have ceviche ($7),deviled shrimp (7), red peppered shrimp (7), fried calamari (7), and meat pies for 1.79. Entrée’s-the beef ribs are $10, New York strip 17 oz for only $17, 10-12 oz filet Mignon (20), grilled chicken breast (11).

A complimentary cast iron pan arrived, with pink Argentinian, and darker Uruguayan sausages, with grilled green and red peppers and onions. These are succulent homemade sausages, bursting with juicy taste. A Midwestern family of 8, with grandma to grand daughters, sat at the center table. Several tables of twos and fours were already dining. The mix of Latinos and Gringos is a very good sign.
We were here on a mission; to share the mixed grill for two, that easily feeds three hungry people or four not so hungry people, for only $29.99. Figured if still hungry, we’d try some sides. There’s two different versions. The “tame” version of the mixed grill has a generous assortment of beef ribs, chicken, pork, skirt steak and sausages.

Some of the "Tame" Version just Placed on the Grill
We chose the “typical” grill version, with delicious beef ribs, skirt steak, blood sausage, tripe, kidneys, and sweetbreads, with red and green peppers and onions. Three voracious eaters could not finish our “plate!”. And, at $10 a person, or even 7.50 a person for four dinners, you just can NOT top this for value! The “plate” is served piping hot on a raised platform, with a steady heat source under, keeping the food warm. The smoky scent wafts over the dining room, turning all heads. My favorites are the tender sweetbreads, two very large portions, nicely grilled. Tender inside and grill marked outside, it’s a treat. The large chunk of medium rare skirt steak ties the tender beef ribs for #2 spot, with the morcilla, or blood sausage right behind. The chorizo, or red sausage is the same delicious one from our appetizer. The kidneys are properly cooked and tender. The beef milk tripe are curved tubes, a little chewy, as expected, and good. I add a touch of salt to my meats. My partners are just as happy without it. The hot bread slices soak up all the luscious juices.

It was dessert time.We looked dumbly at each other. We just couldn’t eat any more. No room. We left 8 oz on the plate! We ordered a tiramisu (5) and it's good. Next time it's the flan.

Oh, yes, we’re coming back! This is the best priced place for steaks in SW Florida. The décor is simple, servers are friendly, and steaks are great. The bang for your buck is incredible. No, it’s won't put a dent in The Capital Grille or Fleming’s clientele or seating. This location and this type of food is for the curious and mildly adventuresome, who can leave malls and shopping centers behind for a day, and go to Radio Road to savor it. The taste and style of steaks and the décor can’t be compared to conventional steakhouses. Apples to oranges, that’s all. Naples steak houses can serve great steaks- styles differ. At $7.50 to $10 a person on the huge mixed meat platter, this delicious bargain sings out in a language we all can understand.
6002-04 Radio Road, Naples Fl 659-5996 (on the east side, in a little strip center)


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