Report Card: Brio Tuscan Grille

Brio Tuscan Grille at Polaris Fashion Place

Brio Tuscan Grille at Polaris Fashion Place

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

http://www.brioitalian.com/polaris_fashion_place.html

Overall GrubGrade B

 

The Breakdown:

 

Atmosphere:  Grade A-:  If you’ve ever been to Bravo, then you might be a little confused when you walk through the front doors of Brio.  These two restaurants are so similar in décor that you might doubt your sanity and think you’ve entered the wrong restaurant.  The interior is clean, and the overall vibe is very Mediterranean with all the stucco adorning the walls.  When we visited, there weren’t a whole lot of other people there, but like its cousin Bravo, the place seemed really noisy.  Seating was nicely spaced, and other than some poor seals around some doors and windows making the place drafty, the overall atmosphere was really nice.

High marks:  Clean, well-spaced tables

Low marks:   Noisy and drafty

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Service:  Grade B+:  After a change in tables (the first place they sat us was right in front of some doors that led outside, creating a real draft problem), our server’s name was Joshua.  Josh did a very commendable job serving us.  Our food arrived promptly, our drinks were served with minimal delay, and we received refills of bread almost as soon as we ate the last piece in the basket (I should point out that the majority of bread consumed was done so by our daughter, who are like she’s been in a prison camp for a decade).  Since Brio’s wasn’t very busy, I expected a little more “umph” out of the service.  Our server got everything right, but there wasn’t much engagement beyond the basic back and forth involved with dining out.

High marks:  Accurate and quick

Low marks:   Not anything really stood out about the service

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Food/Spirits:  Grade B:   On this visit to Brio, Katina selected the White Peach Sangria for her first cocktail and chased it with another cocktail called a Strawberry Basil Lemonade.  The sangria was very tasty, with a heavy peach flavor and a lot of sweetness.  This sangria wasn’t dry like some sangria can be, and it was very lightly carbonated which made it easy to drink.  I ordered the raspberry mojito.  I found it to be very smooth with a pronounced raspberry flavor.  There was virtually no alcohol flavor in this mojito, which made me wonder if they might have forgotten an important ingredient.  For entrees, our daughter, Morgan, ordered the sausage and pepperoni flatbread.  She found it to be delicious, with just a hint of spiciness and a nice, balanced flavor.  She particularly enjoyed the thin and crispy crust.  I really don’t even know how she tasted it since she eats so quickly I’m not sure the food even touches her tongue.  Katina selected the veal marsala for her entrée.  She found it to be very good (and she’s a veal marsala expert).  The veal was pounded nice and thin and cooked to perfection, and Brio wasn’t stingy with the marsala sauce, which was perfect for Katina (who usually orders a side of whatever sauce comes with her dish, anyway.  The veal marsala was accompanied by a Caesar salad (which is Katina’s favorite style of salad).  She thought it was good, but just too light on the dressing.  For myself, I begrudgingly ordered the crab and shrimp cakes.  Evidently, the only reason I wanted to go to Brio (can you say gorgonzola crusted lamb chops?) was removed from the menu.  That was rather suckish.  The crab and shrimp cakes were okay.  They were very light on flavor, and portion size was ridiculously small (think 3 bite sized cakes).  The crab and shrimp cakes came with crispy potatoes, which I might have ordinarily passed on but devoured due to food shortage that was evident on my plate.  The crispy potatoes were surprisingly good.  I ordered the Biscetta Insalata to go with my dish…and thank god I did.  Otherwise I might have taken down the first elderly or sick person in the parking lot like a lion dispatching a gimpy zebra.  This salad looked terrible – a huge wedge of lettuce with some creamy Italian dressing and some bacon bits.  However, the Biscetta Insalata was one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted.  The lettuce, while not loose, was very fresh, and the creamy Italian dressing was perfect.  Plus, Brio was fairly generous with the bacon, so the salad ended up in near perfect balance.  It’s pretty sad when the salad is the highlight of the meal.  Katina gave Brio an “A” for food, but I couldn’t muster anything higher than a “C+,” so we split the difference to get the grade of “B.”

High marks:  Good flatbread, good drinks, excellent salad, good veal marsala     

Low marks:   Mediocre crab and shrimp cakes, I think (not really enough of them to taste), weak mojito

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Value:  Grade B- :  The quality of food is high at Brio Tuscan Grille, and on this occasion, so was the price.  Portion size was adequate for most of the dishes (except the crab and shrimp cakes), but we certainly didn’t have much need for a doggy bag (Katina took half of her dish home, but I bet she could have finished it off – she was looking for an easy dish to take to work for lunch).  However, for the price we paid, I would expect service above and beyond the normal and the food quality to be exceptional.  While not our first pick for Italian food, Brio Tuscan Grille does provide a nice alternative to Olive Garden and Bravo if you’re in need of a change.

High marks:   Good food quality, adequate portion size

Low marks:   For the price, our expectations were a little higher
 

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