Sit on Fiorito's front porch on a Saturday afternoon. Watch men with dreadlocks kill time outside the Little Haiti Supermarket across the way. Listen to the one-two beats of compas blast from a nearby speaker. Check out that guy! He's selling T-shirts from the back of his Jeep. Behold neon-painted botanicas, the hipster paradise known as Sweat Records, and the British pub Churchill's, where warm Guinness flows. Look at NE Second Avenue's pavement -- the summer heat sparkles.
On this polyglot strip in Little Haiti, brothers Maximiliano and Cristian Alvarez, natives of Córdoba, opened their Argentine restaurant December 21, 2012. "The date of the end of the world!" says Maximiliano, a boyish 29-year-old with jet-black hair and ebullient eyes. "The perfect date to accomplish our dream." They named the teeny restaurant after Villa Fiorito, a slum south of Buenos Aires close to where they once lived.
They gutted a Haitian cafeteria and filled it with coiled light bulbs, red brick walls, and photographs. A jersey signed by Diego Maradona hangs in a corner. The famed midfielder was born in Fiorito. And it's no coincidence that the brothers are big fans. Fiorito might look like a bachelor's dining room -- usually no-frills but apparently spruced up for when Mom comes to town. Sure, the brothers display framed jerseys, but they also keep dainty potted plants around.
Food is cooked and served by the owners here, a rarity in our chef-idolizing town. Cristian, formerly chef de cuisine at South Beach's the Dining Room, reigns from the kitchen. Maximiliano helms the front of the house as runner, busboy, server, and, occasionally, sommelier. Things can move slowly. But don't mind the wait. Ask Maximiliano to keep the Quilmes flowing. Order more $3 puffed beef empanadas, filled with spiced hanger steak. A meal at Fiorito is nicest when you forget your watch.