Last updateMon, 16 Feb 2015 1pm

First restaurant a hit as gourmet concept moves west

Israel Lopez had been planning to open a lakeside eatery for years, even though he wasn’t in the restaurant business. First he found the spot, then purchased the land and financed the building — a huge 120-seat restaurant with a big bar and a good size kitchen.

To overcome his inexperience and realize his vision, he hired some top notch people to help him outfit and run his new enterprise, and it seems, that after only three months, customers like what’s on their plate and the manner of attention they receive at Arileo.

Chef Julian Martinez is one of the reasons Arileo is capturing appetites. His culinary background began at Salernos in St. Charles, Illinois 15 years ago.

After mastering Italian cooking he studied international cuisine. He returned to Mexico in 2008 and began working as the sous chef in Restaurant

Number Four, learning from the many Toronto-based chefs that passed through that kitchen:  Diego, Ismat Jivani (who then opened Gossips Kitchen),

Glenroy Anderson, Greg Couliard and others. His repertoire of dishes is now truly international. And although Arileo was conceived as a “gourmet” steak house, the ethnic gourmet end of the menu is increasing as diners find out just who is under the chef hat. Says Martinez, “They’ll ask: ‘oh, can you make me this or that special dish,’ and we try to comply.”

Martinez is committed to using the freshest produce — he or his sous chef, also from No. Four, shop at Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara three times per week and they have a garden at the restaurant where they grow fresh herbs. Arileo’s beef is all imported from Canada or the U.S. and they are working on getting rack of lamb from New Zealand. Martinez is committed to good taste, a balanced flavor and a pleasing presentation in all his dishes.

Each day they offer a special soup, main dish and dessert beyond the extensive menu.

Capitan Luis Reyes Alonso is the other pillar of experience at Arileo. He has worked at three restaurants in his 18 years in the business at Lakeside: Los Telares, Pedro’s Gourmet (and later “Go”) and then Number Four.

He boasted that Arileo’s goal is to be “the” quality restaurant representing Lakeside. He is training the wait staff from scratch to give the service Arileo’s clients expect. Restaurant Manager Sambry Lopez says, “We have a number of good critiques of our food so far.” Some 90 percent of Arileo’s clients are expats, some of whom eat there daily.

Arileo is located at 1088 Chapala-Jocotepec Highway in Los Charales in San Juan Cosala. Open noon to 9 p.m., closed Wednesdays. See their menu on facebook at /arileosteakhousebar. Tel. (376) 106-1627.