Altiro Latin Fusion
Innovative small plates in Geneva
Al Carnitas — roasted farm pork belly, pickle, red onions, cilantro, arbol and salsa
Photo courtesy of Altiro Latin Fusion
Since its debut two years ago, Altiro Latin Fusion in Geneva has cultivated a devoted customer following with it’s fresh, tapas-style Latin Fusion cuisine.
Created by Roberto Avila — the talented chef-owner who runs the place with partners Miguel Villanueva and Jose Trejo — the family-run establishment is housed in a strip mall in a residential neighborhood a few blocks from the main drag in town. The 45-seat eatery is regularly packed with diners hungry for its easy-to-like fare, served on shareable small plates.
Innovative flavors are the watchword, starting with the full-service bar’s signature cocktails such as the Ala Pina. Served in an intriguing sloping glass containing a pineapple-chipotle ice cube, this refreshing drink features fresh muddled pineapple, lemon juice and tequila.
The menu, which is updated seasonally, informs customers that Altiro locally sources its meats and, when available, gets its produce from area suppliers. Dishes, priced from $5 to $13 each, are designed for sharing, although some good-natured misunderstandings about that concept may surface during the appealing dessert course.
A tasty appetizer that kicked off dinner during a recent visit featured four slices of chipotle-glazed yellowfin ahi tuna accompanied by avocado cream cheese and chipotle aioli, the whole works
resting on crispy homemade tortilla chips.
Among other starter options were a tilapia ceviche, a guacamole trio and a salad with watermelon, mint, arugula and feta.
Diners get to control the pace of their meal by ordering course by course. We never encountered an interval longer than five or 10 minutes between servings.
Each succeeding dish offered new mouthwatering taste sensations, like Al Fundido — sautéed garlic shrimp bathed in cilantro-lime oil and presented with chihuahua cheese and pickled red onions.
The hit parade continued with a barbecue dish consisting of shredded lamb, slow-roasted in cactus leaves served with scaled-down soft corn tortillas, onions, cilantro and a zesty roasted salsa with dried chile de arbol pods. Be sure to have a napkin at the ready when tackling this delicious but potentially messy dish.
Skirt steak with chorizo and melted chihuahua turned out to be another instant favorite. This mini entrée, designed to be consumed with tortillas, came paired with bell peppers, sautéed red onions and a tomatillo-avocado salsa.
Left to sample during a future visit were the roasted pork belly, grilled chicken with pine nuts, king salmon and Prince Edward Island mussels in a tomato-chile sauce. The menu also includes a vegetarian entrée and, when possible, the kitchen tries to accommodate those with food allergies.
A critic’s old refrain about saving room for dessert definitely applies here. One bite of the creamy Latin version of tiramisu will seal the deal. Two other options included fried plantains and bite-size pieces of key lime pie.
Underscoring Altiro’s success, a second location was opened in May with essentially the same menu in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood.
308 Anderson Blvd., Geneva
Yellowfin tuna; garlic shrimp with cheese; skirt steak; roasted pork belly
Tapas-style small plates: $5 to $13
Mon 4-9 p.m.; Tue-Thur 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-9 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m.; Sat 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-10 p.m.; Sun 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sunday brunch. Patio seating. Other location at 2116 N. Roscoe St. in Chicago