Brio Tuscan Grille
Jan 07, 2011 09:19PM ● Published by Anonymous
The interior is a welcoming and quite impressive, featuring a beautiful characteristic Italian décor with arched colonnades carefully enhanced with draperies, handcrafted Italian mosaics, Venetian walls, and marble countertops to section off dining areas, but it also keeps a wide-open feel.
We were expecting impeccable service, and Robert—a Brio veteran who has been there since opening—came through for us in a classy, non-intrusive, and cordial manner. He succinctly gave us details of the specials and answered couple menu questions. After few minutes of studying, we were ready to order.
Hungry and knowing that while waiting for our courses, two cups of soup would satisfy us temporarily, we ordered the Tomato Bisque ($4.95) and Lobster Bisque ($5.95). The first was absolutely superb, smooth, rich, and deep in tomato flavor gently touched with cream, while the latter was graded just as high! An authentic and rightly flavored good stock to begin with, good reduction with cream, and generously garnished with lobster. What a way to get started! My girlfriend, Celia, and I both had something in mind and looking forward to as soon as we knew we were visiting Brio: Beef Carpaccio ($12.95). I truly believe that the last time I visited Brio I undervalued this outstanding appetizer. The beef was fresh, appetizing, and wonderfully presented in this huge long platter, adequately drizzled with a mustard sauce and gracefully garnished with the tossed mixed greens, all sided with delicious toasted flat breads. Another appetizer was a special of the day, The Prosciutto and Asparagus Bruschetta ($11.95). This came as a scrumptious combination of melted Fontina cheese atop of toasts points, then neatly garnished with grilled asparagus and prosciutto ham and finally accentuated with Pinot Noir caramelized onions. We could have made a meal out of those.
A favorite that we split was the Brio Chopped Salad ($4.95), consisting of tomatoes, olives, onions, cucumbers, and diced feta cheese gently tossed in light red wine vinaigrette.
Quite satisfied but still marching through this already bountiful dining escapade, we moved to our entrees. Celia decided on a quite original Tuscan Grilled Pork chop ($20.95), tastefully “in-house” marinated, perfectly grilled and classically served with buttery fresh mashed potatoes and crisp fresh asparagus—simply delicious. I settled on a pasta dish, the Garganelli Carbonara ($20.95). I hadn’t had a good Carbonara for a long time, and I found Brio’s version filled that hole. Carbonara is a recipe that was created in the middle of the 20th century. Tossed with a variety of pastas, its original ingredients consisted of eggs, pecorino Romano cheeses, guanciale (a variance of pancetta), and black pepper. However, this recipe has taken life on its own, and you will find numerous versions, especially here in the U.S., where cream, bacon or prosciutto have been used as substitute for the pancetta and eggs. I did, however, enjoy Brio version with grilled chicken, bacon, and fresh spinach.
To perfectly end our dinner there was no choice but to order the assorted mini desserts: The Dolchino Sampler ($10.95): five smaller portions of the day’s desserts consisting of Tiramisu, Milk Chocolate Caramel Cake, Vanilla Crème Brule, Torta Di Cioccolate, and Famous Brio cheesecake. Which one was our favorite? It’s hard to tell as we managed to finish them all.
Brio offers a fantastic “events and parties” program, featuring very much the same enjoyable menu as the restaurant side all under the direction of Chef Jeff Carter. Selby Scaggs, the manager, emphasized this and quite convinced me that the experience would be unparalleled. We chatted about wines also, and Selby proudly mentioned the orientation of the menu is solely based on purchasing wines from fully self-sustainable wineries, a very nice way to “stay green,” looking at the menu that offers a wonderful variety. Celia raved about the wonderful Trivento Reserve Pinot Noir ($7.25).
You can also now participate to the “Brio’s Frequent Lunch Club,” which will give you a free lunch following your fifth. I signed up! Don’t forget happy hour with the $2.95 bar menu, Have a good time, and Buon Appetito.
Brio Tuscan Grille
305 Sail Place, Annapolis Annapolis Towne Centre
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Wines glasses: $6.25–13.95
Wines bottle: $27–195