Dining
April 18, 2013 • 09:54:02 a.m.

Taste of the Town: Altiro Latin Fusion

New Geneva restaurant sets the table for tapas

By NICOLE WESKERNA - nweskerna@shawmedia.com

GENEVA – Busboy, server, bartender, chef – Miguel Villanueva and Roberto Avila have done it all, sometimes working three jobs at once. But four weeks ago, they reached a years-long goal when they opened their own restaurant in Geneva – Altiro Latin Fusion.

"We really love our work in the restaurant industry," Villanueva said. "We've been planning to do this for a while."

Owning a restaurant is a first for brothers-in-law Villanueva and Avila, who are originally from Mexico City. But cooking has been a longtime passion that's been honed through years of working in numerous capacities at a variety of restaurants, including Italian and Mexican places, as well as breakfast diners and steakhouses. Now they're adding some flair to their own menu by turning traditional Latin cuisine on its head and infusing innovative flavors and spices.

Their tapas-style restaurant includes a variety of unique taco dishes, mini enchiladas and seafood dishes. Most of their ingredients are organic and purchased locally, and some of their meat selections come from local farms.

Villanueva said he and his family have been working long hours, sometimes putting in 15-hour days, to get the restaurant ready to open. Colorful pillows are placed on benches along the walls, and Villanueva and Avila actually made some of the tables and chairs themselves. Each table is adorned with fresh flowers and candles, as well as small plates for tapas-style dining.

The name of the restaurant – Altiro – is derived from their Mexican roots. Villanueva said the word "tiro" in Spanish means "gun." The phrase, "altiro," has become more common over the last century and translates into "be aware." Villanueva said about 100 years ago, plantation owners used to fire a gun to let the workers know when it was time to eat, kind of like an old-fashioned dinner bell.

The "Latin fusion" part of the name reflects the combination of Latino cultures in the restaurant's one-of-a-kind dishes.

"We wanted to pick a name to represent our concept because we are Latin, not just Mexican," Villanueva said.

Among Altiro's taco selections are the ala tostadas, which are made with shredded lamb from a local farm, caramelized chipotle sauce, queso fresco, a cream sauce and homemade crispy tortillas. Avila, one of the restaurant's chef's, said he likes to use a make tequila reductions for certain sauces rather than wine reductions, which are more common in Italian cuisine.

The menu also has a variety of molette dishes, which hail from southern Spain. These dishes are served with grilled open-faced buttered Italian bread. One molette dish, al hawaiano, includes sauteed shrimp, melted oaxa cheese, lettuce, avocado, grilled pineapple and mayonnaise. The drink menu includes homemade hibiscus flower water, fresh orange juice and lemonade.

Villanueva said they're in the process of obtaining a liquor license and hopes to offer a full bar when everything goes through. The restaurant is also open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with a twist on traditional breakfast foods, and menu items like egg tacos put a twist on traditional breakfast foods. And to introduce such unique foods, Villanueva said Geneva is the perfect setting.

"The people here in Geneva, they're ready for new things, new flavors, new concepts," he said. "There's a lot of pressure on our shoulders. We don't want to disappoint our family, our friends, and especially our customers."

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Altiro Latin Fusion – a tapas restaurant that combines innovative flavors from Latin cuisine – is located at 308 Anderson Blvd. in Geneva. For more information, call 630-232-7717 or visit www.altirolatinfusion.com. The restaurant is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.


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