Renzo Menzerotolo is from Venezuela, his dad is from Uruguay, and he lived in Argentina. He has bestowed his Latin accent on the Westshore business district with Renzo’s Gourmet Argentine Steakhouse.
And he thinks everyone likes Argentinean beef.
“We sell a ton of meats for the Spanish population, a ton of wine and lots of pastries,’’ says Renzo, who opened his eatery two years ago. It’s unpretentious, with an almost bare-bones cafeteria (by day), restaurant (at night), and a bakery, meat market and new a Vinotecca that holds 500 bottles of wine.
“Business splits 50/50 between lunch and dinner customers and there is a consistent flow of people who like to spend even more time hanging out,’’ he adds. This place is for groups with children in tow celebrating a birthday or cheering on a soccer match.
Our favorite starter is an Argentinean spinoff of Swiss raclette. Melted cheese, treated to a little oil and oregano, arrives in a dimpled serving dish as Provoleta Parrillera. A catch-all starter combines fresh mozzarella, grilled red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Genoa salami, and prosciutto for instant gratification.
Renzo’s parilla covers all the bases: a sizzling grill is brought tableside with a bonanza of pork tenderloin, chicken, chorizo, short ribs, flank and skirt steaks. Ours had inconsistencies as the pork and poultry had been cooked too long. The beef cuts, thinly sliced as for a sandwich, remained juicy, especially the lusty flank steak. And, unlike at other South American steak venues, there was no characteristic sauce to add zest to the sampler.
Brazilian Picanha refers to grilled top sirloin, which offers a little layer of fat that melts into the meat. These dinners come with a choice of sides that include a beet salad, Spanish rice, sautéed spinach, and several fried choices: French fries, yucca and tostones (plantains).
Blanca’s Salad combines baby greens with walnuts, cranberries, almonds and feta cheese. Hearts of palm is gussied up with avocados and black olives. A colorful mango blend has red peppers, avocados and cranberries.
Renzo’s melted brie, havarti and ham “Parisian’’ panini, roasted pork and provolone panini, or stuffed empanadas (spinach, beef, chicken or ham), are breezy bites for those on the run.
Desserts cobble together flan, tres leche, and postre chaja, a vanilla sponge cake with dulce de leche, peaches, whipped cream and meringue. Bolcarce mimics the chaja along with coconut.
“I study the market and try to buy unique styles of wine,’’ adds Renzo about his reasonably priced wines from Argentina, Spain and Italy. Renzo charges a $6 corkage fee should you choose to bring your own bottle.
Argentine-style food has European roots influenced by Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. As to his competition, Renzo says, “I don’t think I have any.’’
Renzo’s Gourmet Argentine Grille
3644 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL
Drinks: Beer and wine
Hours: M- Th.: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., F: – Sat: 10 – 10; Sun.: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m
Way to pay: AE, MC, V, Discover
Reservations: (813) 870-3606
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