Taste of Argentina

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Maro Wood Grill offers a fresh, local spin on Argentinian fare.

By Micaela Myers | Photos by Jody Tiongco

Every day, locals fill the handful of tables at Maro Wood Grill, seeking fresh, Argentinian-inspired cuisine. “We try to keep everything local (with the exception of some Argentinian items),” owner Mariano “Maro” Molteni says. “The idea is to have everything fresh and organic.”

Some of the meats come from Paso Robles, while some of the craft beer offered is from San Diego, for example. Of course, Argentine malbec is also featured on the menu.

Opened in 2011, the restaurant only seats 30 outside and eight around the kitchen bar. Its popularity with locals makes almost every day a full house (reservations accepted). “That’s the key,” says Maro, explaining that about 70 percent of business is local.

Maro grew up in Argentina. Together with his chef, Debra Sims, he’s made the restaurant quite a hit, known especially for its mesquite wood grill. “We don’t like to cook with the flame,” he explains. “We prefer to have the coals ready.”

“Whatever I can grill, I grill,” Debra adds. “I haven’t sauteed anything since I started here.”

Grass-fed baseball steak with organic arugula.
Grass-fed baseball steak with organic arugula.

On our recent visit, our culinary journey began with the Maro edamame and grilled shishitos, both served with grilled coarse Sonoma sea salt and house-pickled ginger. After these tasty treats, we sampled the best empanadas I’ve ever had. Mine were the mushroom (organic mushrooms, Spanish onions, mozzarella cheese) and spinach (organic spinach, sweet onions, provolone cheese) varieties, but Maro also offers spicy chicken and beef empanadas. All are served with a delicious house-made garlic aioli dip.

Grilled shishitos topped with Sonoma sea salt and ginger.
Grilled shishitos topped with Sonoma sea salt and ginger.

From there, we sampled the organic green salad and grass fed baseball steak. The steak is a center-cut top sirloin served with organic arugula, red onions, Maytag blue cheese dressing and house-made chimichurri. For dessert, don’t miss the organic banana bread pudding made with artisan brioche, eggs, muscovado sugar, royal vanilla beans and vanilla-bourbon cream sauce.

The affordable prices and family-friendly atmosphere, along with cuisine you won’t find anywhere else, are sure to keep customers coming back for more. LBM


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