Chef Dani del Prado says his new North Loop Argentinian steakhouse, Porzana, might just be his “reverse flagship” — even though it succeeds his first Twin Cities restaurant, Martina, by nearly six years. Del Prado partnered with fellow restaurateur Ryan Burnet to revamp the former Bachelor Farmer space in Minneapolis’s North Loop; Porzana opened there August 20. The vast menu spans steaks that range from a $19 hanger to a $290 44-ounce tomahawk, with an emphasis on Argentinian cuts — plus an array of pastas, snack-like small dishes, vegetable sides, salads, and a seafood cold bar.
Argentinian cuisine, as del Prado puts it, is a heady mix of Italian and Spanish influences with “a lot of beef” thrown in. “There was no gold, you know?” del Prado says of Argentina, where he was raised. “So there was really no immigration until the beginning of the 19th century, when we had like 12 million mainly Italians and Spanish come to the country.”
As far as what sets Argentinian steaks apart from American ones, del Prado says it boils down to the cut. “After the second World War, we were producing a lot of meat for England and all the countries in the war because they couldn’t produce,” says del Prado. “All the prime cuts — the rib, the loin, the New York strip, the ribeye — were being taken away. We learned how to cook other parts — more in the rump, on the back of the animal, or on the shoulder. They have a lot of flavor.”
In the States, he says, tender, melt-in-your mouth steak tends to be the most sought after. In Argentina, having a little “bite” and denser flavor is appreciated. There are four Argentinian style steaks on Porzana’s menu: The entraña is a flat skirt steak; the asado de tira is a short rib. The vacio, a flank steak, is exceptionally popular in Argentina; the picanha is a juicy cut from the top of the rump. “Chefs, especially, and people who are very into food — they’ve been eating steaks like that for a long time,” says del Prado, citing chef Isaac Becker’s hanger steak at the now-closed Burch Steak.
Del Prado stresses, though, that he doesn’t want to alienate any customers — there are traditional American cuts on the menu as well (filet, ribeye, flat iron, etc.), and a wide range of price points. “If you want to come to the bar and sit alone, and have a glass of wine with steak, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money, we have a steak for $19,” says del Prado. “For a prime steak, that’s unheard of. I’m not going to make money on them. But I want to give people a choice.” For those looking to splurge, there are options — a Japanese wagyu goes for $65; a dry-aged ribeye for $180.
Porzana’s vast wine list features many robust South American reds and a number of carefully selected surprises: vintage Madeiras; fino sherry for pairing with oysters; a six-liter bottle of Robert Mondavi cabernet. The cocktail list, created by industry veterans Megan Luedtke, Keith Mrotek (formerly of Marvel Bar), and Adam Luesse, lean into Argentine and South American spirits, vinegars and salts, higher-acid cocktails, and savory flavors. Porzana’s basement cocktail bar, the Flora Room, brings a Patagonia theme to the former Marvel Bar space with lush plants and leaf-green walls.
Del Prado acknowledges the immense task of revamping the former Bachelor Farmer, a farm-to-table Nordic restaurant that distinguished itself as one of Minnesota’s best before closing in the early months of the pandemic. He’s also opening the restaurant in a moment of great transformation for the North Loop’s restaurant scene — Porzana joins Maison Margaux and a soon-to-open TimMcKee restaurant on First Street, all within a block of Spoon and Stable. “Some people think that it’s competition, but it’s great,” says del Prado. “I’m very excited for when Tim opens — my first job in Minnesota was with him. It’s great to have all these great restaurants.”