The grilled salmon salad

The grilled salmon salad (Mike Stocker, Sun Sentinel / April 1, 2013)

Located in downtown Hollywood, Kussifay is an extension of a restaurant that opened six years ago a mile west. Both are owned by Yanina Arias, a transplant from Argentina whose family has operated pizza restaurants here and abroad. The new restaurant ramps up the fun with live music on Saturdays, modern decor and an enormous space well suited for events. The only downside: The much-loved pizzas and calzones from the original location are unavailable here due to a smaller kitchen that can't accommodate a large oven. Regardless, the menu offers plenty to love.

One of Kussifay's greatest strengths is its versatility. The menu caters to diners of any budget and appetite, with items ranging from churrasco and high-end Italian fare to inexpensive sandwiches and empanadas. The restaurant includes three dining areas, each with its own pros and cons. On our visit, we sat outside on a cool day, watching the always-interesting downtown Hollywood passers-by. It can get loud outside, with music carrying over from across the street and jerks who feel compelled to honk their horns on nearby Dixie Highway.

Inside, one dining area features a singer and a keyboardist entertaining a lively crowd with songs in Spanish. If you just want to eat in peace, sit in the isolated area on the other side of the room.


Photos: Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

To get things started off right, order a pitcher of sangria ($17), available in white and red. The secret to Kussifay's sangria is the orange juice, which is fresh-squeezed at the restaurant. A large, separate glass of juice ($4.50) intended for our daughter ended up half-sipped by the adults. Such are the indignities of being a toddler.

For appetizers, head straight for a nice selection of empanadas ($1.50 each), including ground beef, spinach, chicken, and ham and cheese. We had hearty arguments about which we liked best, but the ham and cheese was my top pick. Either way, they all had that slightly flaky and browned crust we love.

Provoleta ($8), a grilled, melted Argentinean cheese, came out delightfully gooey and just right. Make sure your server brings you some bread before it arrives, as this cheese can only be enjoyed if eaten immediately. Speaking of that bread, it's an airy basket of ciabatta with hints of garlic, so make sure to try some.

For dinner, Kussifay produces an excellent yet relatively inexpensive steak salad. At $10.99, the salad features an enormous, moist piece of sliced flank steak atop romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions and large chunks of guacamole. Pollo encebollado ($11.99) is another relatively inexpensive yet tasty entree, with chicken breast hammered thin, and topped with caramelized onions and red peppers. The dish may come across a little salty for some diners, so order accordingly.

If you order a traditional parrillada meat platter for one ($18.99 or $29.99 for two) and actually manage to eat the whole thing, you may never experience an iron deficiency for the rest of your life. This enormous plate comes with blood sausage, pinwheel sausage, chorizo, sweetbread, beef ribs and churrasco, plus a side dish of your choice. Overall, the quality of the various meats was good, though the ribs were tough. For sides, try the French fries Provenzal ($3.50 a la carte), a plate of fries drizzled with olive oil and topped with garlic and parsley. For the full effect, ask for Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

Churrasco ($17.99) is also good, with a buttery exterior, a nice bit of char and a perfectly pink interior. The accompanying chimichurri had the right amount of spiciness and the red pepper.

As good as the Latin-American items are on this menu, the Italian-originated entrees are better. The gnocchi ($13.50) boasted a beautiful texture. We went all in on the calories with the delicious pink sauce, but you can choose from nine different sauces, including spicy pomodoro, alfredo and carbonara.

On the night of our visit, Kussifay served the best risotto I've ever had, with nine delicious jumbo shrimp, a spot-on cheesiness and an outstanding harmony of ingredients. But Arias is removing it from the menu this week. Let's hope she reconsiders.

Dessert is solid, though the entrees are a tough act to follow. The molten chocolate cake ($7) is pleasant, though it doesn't have the thick, liquid-chocolate interior one would expect. But as a hot chocolate cake, it's delicious when paired with ice cream. Caramel crepes ($6) are a nice option, with a caramelized exterior and a gooey caramel-chocolate interior. The flan ($4) here is the eggy kind, with a thin-milk flavor. It comes with three dollops of dulce de leche, which adds richness.

Six months after opening, Kussifay has shown to be an enticing addition to Hollywood Boulevard's downtown core. Given the restaurant's delicious, high-value food and its ability to transition from a quick, inexpensive lunch spot to a quality family eatery, I'm rooting for it to become a long-term success.

2050 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood

954-842-2396, Kussifay.com

Cuisine: Argentinean, Italian

Cost: Inexpensive-Moderate

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-midnight daily (kitchen closes at 11:30 p.m.)

Reservations: Recommended

Bar: Full service

Sound level: Loud to moderate, depending on seating area and time of day

Outside smoking: Yes

For kids: Highchairs, kids menu

Wheelchair accessible: Yes