Argentinian restaurant survives pandemic with creativity and classic recipes

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You might remember first meeting Gabriel Rivero in November of 2020. On request, he sang opera for his lunchtime customers. We featured this first-time restaurant owner in an Eye on Keloland.

He comes from a family of professional opera singers. However, for Gabriel his real passion is food. Often family recipes are handed down from generation to generation.

“My grandmother and my aunt have Sicilian roots,” said Rivero.

He named his restaurant Tarquin, after a famous bull from Argentina.

Rivero says opening a new restaurant and surviving the pandemic has been tough. He says one of the keys to survival is adapting and listening to customers.

“We learn from our mistakes, we learn from what the people say to us and we improve a lot of stuff a lot of things,” he said.

When it comes to Argentinean food, think Mediterranean rather than Mexican, pastas and lots of dishes centered around beef. Beef is big in Argentina. The empanadas are a favorite with many regulars. Gabriel says many of the recipes are old, he recently created a dish from a 100 year old recipe

“A recipe from the 1920s. We used walnuts, walnut sauce and people find that they love it they say they used to be used for proteins walnut,” Gabriel says.

Rivero says the recipe was a favorite of one of America’s most notorious gangsters.

“Al Capone, Al Capon’s favorite dish. Yes his mother Teresina, Al Capone made the plate for him to spoil him.”

Gabriel is now working on a dish that was supposedly a favorite of Julius Caesar.

Gabriel Rivero: “I have the recipe.”

Tom Hanson: “You have the recipe of Julius Caesar’s favorite dish?’

Rivero: “Yes, I tell you I have a secret, it’s very good, to me its very tasty he had good taste.”

Hanson: “How will people know how to order that when they come here?

“Well you know we are going to try to make a contest, not this week but next week and we are going to offer the dish to 10 people, 10 different couples, so they can try it and if they like it we gonna add that one to the menu,” said Rivero.

Getting creative has helped him survive through the pandemic.

There are many things that make Tarquin unique, from the food to the entertainment to wine parings. His goal has always been to share his roots and bring a little Argentina to South Dakota.

“In the end, you can try something new something different you never try before,” said Rivero.

So one year and two months after he opened his dream, like all of us, he’s hoping the spread of the Omicron variant is short lived. He knows in the end it comes down to his customers.

“The customers support us a lot, they allow us to keep dreaming and creating and surviving, because believe me it was tough it was hard,” said Rivero.

Tarquin is located in the former Jacky’s location at the corner of North Cliff and Benson road.

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