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Local restaurateurs Rocio Navarrete and Mariano Maldonado are beginning a new chapter with El Gaucho Trattoria at 14700 Tamiami Trail N., Unit 5, in North Naples. The restaurant will seat 150 indoor and outdoor guests, with the expected opening to be within the next two weeks.  

The married couple has two El Gaucho Inca locations in Lee County, with the most recent restaurant being El Gaucho Deli Café in Estero, which opened in 2022. 

After opening three Peruvian and Argentinian restaurants inspired by Navarrete and Maldonado’s heritage, the couple is departing from their usual concept and diving into Maldonado’s Italian heritage for their new restaurant. 

“We were missing the Italian part from his family,” said Navarrete, a native of Peru. “The Peruvian part is gone. We will be Italian with a little twist from Argentinian flavors.” 

Maldonado’s family came from Italy and Argentina. “His grandmother and greatgreatgrandmother used to cook pasta, bread and everything from scratch,” Navarrete said. 

Maldonado learned to cook from his mother and grandmother, so guests can expect everything to be freshly prepared at El Gaucho Trattoria. 

The menu ranges from pizza and pasta to El Gaucho specials, including risotto ai funghi porcini served with scaloppinne ai funghi porcini. 

El Gaucho Trattoria in North NaplesThe menu also offers a soup and salad section, appetizers and a milanesa section, which refers to a thin cut of meat that is breaded and pan-fried. El Gaucho Trattoria has a wine selection and a cocktail menu, along with desserts, including chocolate and pistachio cannoli and tiramisu.  

Pizza options include margaritha (margherita), hawaiana (Hawaiian) and di’morrones (red peppers).  

House-made pasta dishes range from carbonara and frutti de mari to different “gnoqui” options.  

Gnocchi, or ñoqui, was introduced to Argentina when Italian immigrants began arriving in the 19th century. Argentina is known to have a heavy Italian influence because of the influx of immigrants following World War I.  

This history is commemorated not only through food, but through a photo wall at El Gaucho Trattoria, with photos depicting Maldonado’s family.  

Some of the photos date back to 1920, showcasing Maldonado’s family arriving to Argentina by boat and his family member who served in WWI.  

The photos also show when Navarrete and Maldonado opened their first El Gaucho Inca restaurant in Fort Myers in 2011. 

Every corner tells a story at El Gaucho Trattoria, transporting guests to views of Rome’s Colosseum and the Venetian canals. Stone columns and shelves in the restaurant display antique family heirlooms and objects representative of Italy.  

“We are selling an experience,” Navarrete said. “We are not selling food. Anyone can sell food. Food transmits love and emotion. When people go out to eat and are celebrating and you present very good food to them, you make the experience more memorable, and they will come back.” 

El Gaucho Trattoria will be open 4 to 10 p.m. daily, possibly closing earlier on Sundays. 

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