If you’ve been driving north on Biscayne Boulevard and haven’t thought much about the restaurant attached to the car wash across from Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus, it might be time to think again. For nearly seven years, Julio Bertoni ran his eponymous restaurant as a semi-upscale Argentine eatery offering wine, beer, and a place to sit while your car got washed. Now under new ownership, with lower prices and a more approachable menu, this spot will have you stopping for more than a car wash.
Until recently, Agustina Dapolito and partner Mariano Albaine were Bertoni's employees, making top-quality pastries and pizza that kept things afloat. However, with Bertoni concentrating on his ice-cream business at Aventura Mall and other locations, Dapolito and Albaine noticed a lack of clientele and decided to take matters into their own hands. Newly renamed and with slightly different offerings, Tatore could breathe new life into the corner lot.
Restaurants are in Dapolito’s blood. “Tatore is the name of my grandfather. He came from Italy to Argentina and started selling fruit in the street. He got to know fruit really well,” she says, her Argentine accent making even the idea of selling fruit sound exotic. “Once he had the opportunity, he opened a small ice-cream shop, and he ended up with 30 stores in all of Argentina. [Freddo] is a big brand over there.” Though the family no longer owns the Freddo name, they have plans for more expansion with other brands in the United States.
Though Tatore hasn’t changed architecturally from its Bertoni days, the restaurant feels more inviting. A deli case full of quiche, sandwiches on fresh baguette, brick-oven empanadas, and other daily offerings make the place cozy. “We want this to feel like our home. We are always here interacting with our clients,” Dapolito says while clients from the car wash and a couple of walk-ins enjoy parts of the new menu.
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Tatore is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests familiar with the coffee-and-croissant breakfast famous throughout Buenos Aires will delight in the pastries made fresh daily. Thrifty FIU students and local business owners will delight in the daily lunch specials that include everything from handmade pastas and big salads to milanesas and other items, all for less than $10 each. And anyone driving home at night in sore need of a pick-me-up can head straight to the pastry case, where Dapolito’s handicrafts are on full display, waiting to be devoured.
“[Tatore is] for people who want to eat really good food without paying too much. We are young, and if we want to go out to dinner, we have to spend a lot of money. We want to have good food for people who can come here and they don’t have to pay too much,” says Dapolito, confident the new menu will draw a more relaxed crowd. “We have some Argentine things, but everyone likes things like pizza and pasta. So we gave an Argentine touch to Italian cuisine. We want to do what the customers like, not just what we want to serve.”
There are daily beer and pizza specials for FIU students as well.
Because of Miamians' obsession with their cars and the difficulty of finding a decent bite to eat along the barren expanse of Biscayne Boulevard, Tatore could find a niche in convenience and affordability. Rather than judging a book by its cover, reconsider this forgettable corner. Be sure to pick up one of Dapolito’s exquisite strawberry domes from the pastry case. It will be all the reason you need to return.