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Reminiscent of a Tuscan Gourmet Evening

Dec 18, 2013 03:50PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Crisp evenings are perfect for walks in a gentle breeze and a fine-dining experience. That is exactly what I experienced recently at Brio Tuscan Grille. Arriving for an early dinner that was just before a rush of customers, my guest and I were quickly seated by a pleasant and professional staff. Having been to Italy and not quite making it to Tuscany, I have always been intrigued by the cuisine and creativity found within this region. Fresh ingredients and an inspired mind can make culinary memories happen throughout the menu, and Brio’s takes this challenge to another level. Classic recipes are also on the diverse menu, as are new culinary trends.

Gluten free and a variety of light menu choices show the commitment to customer preferences. Keep in mind that this is a corporate operation with multiple locations along the East and West coasts that still gives personal attention to the very customers that have made it a success. Private parties, catering, and children’s menus are additional services, all of which are offered in a very elegant atmosphere that breathes Tuscany. Panninis, bruschetta, zuppa, seafood, veal, beef, and chicken are all served here in a variety of new and classic appetizers and entrees.

The wine list is extensive with a great price range of global selections available by the glass or bottle, and an upscale cocktail list or any drink made to your specs. A glass of Tavolo Pinot Grigio ($7) was my choice and my guest had a Grey Goose cucumber gimlet ($7.50), both of which arrived in a short time and perfectly poured.

The Light Menu at Brio’s is worth a good look if you are seeking healthy choices. All have the calorie count attached to them and several appetizers are available as a light version. We ordered the Beef Carpaccio (light version, $6.95) and the Bruschetta Quattro ($14.95) to share.

Paper thin prime beef with field greens, capers, and a great mustard aioli was served chilled and garnished with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. I should have gotten the full order as mine was devoured quickly. The variety of the Bruschetta was true to Tuscan kitchens, using fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, and parmesan on crunchy, fresh bruschetta points.

A friend of mine recommended one of the house specialties to me before our visit, so I ordered the Gorgonzola Crusted Bistecca ($29.45), available with an eight ounce Filet Mignon or a 14 ounce New York Strip; I chose the Filet. The steak was cooked perfectly with the Gorgonzola crust, making for a classic combination of flavors. The fresh mashed potatoes and roasted vegetable medley served with this were obviously timed in the kitchen to come out hot and creatively presented.

The light menu appealed to my guest, who ordered the Pasta Pesto ($12.95, 550 calories). Angel hair pasta with fresh basil, tomatoes, roasted peppers, spinach, and feta cheese combined very well with the grilled chicken and caramelized onions. A lot of flavor for a light meal with a modest calorie count.

I really want to emphasize Brio’s awareness of this new style of eating. The wellness movement is spreading across the world and food is a part of this very contemporary way of thinking. Gluten-free items are increasing on menus, like this one, and ingredients are being labeled more often as gluten free.

Desserts at Brio’s are offered in petite or full sizes. We chose the petite Milk Chocolate Caramel Cake ($2.99) and the Butterscotch Pecan Bread Pudding ($3.95). A great way to finish a meal is with dessert, but we often overdo it and leave the table uncomfortable. Both selections were quality items we could share and still feel the sweet tooth was satisfied.

With the kitchen in full view of the dining rooms and wonderful aromas of cooking throughout, it was a great experience with which to walk away and into the crisp evening.

Brio Tuscan Grille
305 Sail Place, Annapolis
Appetizers $7.95–14.95
Entrees $12.45–29.45
Desserts $2.99–11.99
Wine List $7.25–9.95 glass
$28–85 bottle
Valet and garage parking available