Martina, an Argentine fish house, is under construction at the former Marathon gas station at 5400 Penn Av. S.
Chef Daniel del Prado said he’s planning a bright, clean and laidback venue with seafood, fire and char at its focus. The restaurant would be modern, but not fancy, and welcome kids, he said.
“We want to do our best at being a neighborhood restaurant,” he said.
Del Prado said he grew up in Buenos Aires in a household with an Italian mom and an Argentine dad. His concept of Argentine food isn’t steaks, he said, and instead it’s a mix of Spanish tapas and Southern Italian. He described the image of cooking over a fire on the beach.
Del Prado said Minnesota’s landlocked region has led to a dearth of seafood restaurants in town, and he will draw fresh imports through local suppliers like Coastal Seafoods and The Fish Guys in addition to east and west coast companies like Sea to Table in New York.
“I can place an order today and it will come tomorrow morning — and it’s what they caught at a fishing dock today,” he said.
He plans to cook with a wood fire to achieve an underlying smoky flavor. Aside from seafood (Del Prado said he loves shellfish and crab in particular) a selection of meats will be available as well.
He selected the name Martina for its connection to polo players in Argentina and its reference to “mar,” which translates sea.
Del Prado helped open Bar La Grassa and Burch Steak, and he spent time in Europe working for free at spots like Noma. He lives in Linden Hills.
The opening is anticipated in late 2017.