The Hungry Man Eats

Dinner at Brio Tuscan Grill


I recently had the good fortune to take a friend out for dinner on her birthday, for the second year in a row, she chose Brio Tuscan Grill and it was well worth the repeat visit.

The ambiance and interior didn’t have a strong Italian feel to it, I actually had more of a Cheesecake Factory vibe from their décor but without as cavernous of a feel to it, they have an open kitchen which you can observe from most spots in the house.

The meal started off with a very mild disappointment when I was informed that they had run out of Peroni, which is a pale lager from Italy. If I am eating out a restaurant that has a specific type of ethnic cuisine and I am in the mood for beer, I will choose a beer from the same place that the food is from, hence Italian/Tuscan food = Peroni. They had no other Italian beer options (on draft at least) so Sam Adams Winter Lager it was, not a terrible substitution to have to make at all.

When the drinks were brought, they also provided us with a basket containing a warm half loaf of sourdough bread and several flaxseed crackers with butter on the side. The bread was crusty with a mellow sourdough flavor and the crackers seemed to have a slight roasted garlic flavor to them as well.

We each ordered something for before the main course, I chose the Shrimptini off of the light menu and my friend selected their Caesar Salad. The Shrimptini came with about a half dozen medium size shrimp that seemed to have been lightly coated in an Italian tasting dressing served on a bed of shredded lettuce with cocktail sauce on the side. A flaxseed cracker for garnish hung jauntily off to the side of the glass. My friends Caesar Salad had crisp romaine lettuce and as delicious dressing with a subtle but pleasant anchovy flavor. Although my friend normally dislikes anchovies, she liked the flavor they provided to the dressing.


For the main course, my friend chose the Pasta Fra Diavolo with shrimp described as:”Campanelle with a spicy tomato cream sauce and green onions.” The campanelle pasta was a fine pasta to use as it took the sauce on well and had lots of ripples and ridges for the sauce to stick. The last time we went my friend ordered this dish and we both thought it may have been served with penne pasta instead. The sauce had some pep to it, but you weren’t going to find yourself reaching for your water glass to quench a fire in your mouth, it provided a low grade smolder instead.

For my main course I chose the Shrimp Verduta (pictured at top) described as: “Angel hair tossed with shrimp, garlic, sundried tomatoes, roasted artichokes, caramelized onions, Feta and spinach, topped with pesto bread crumb.” What the description from the menu does not state is that the sauce in the dish is lemony, like what you would find in a piccata dish and that there were also several thin slices of lemon as garnish on the top. It was almost too lemony, though my opinion may be colored as I accidentally ate two of the lemon slices that were on top (they really blended in and hid themselves). Other than that it was a dish I would gladly recommend to others.


For dessert, we each got a dolcino style dessert, my friend picked the Milk Chocolate Caramel Cake, described as: “A decadent chocolate cake, layered with milk chocolate ganache, caramel, rich chocolate frosting and vanilla whipped cream” I selected a peanut butter mousse with chocolate ganache, interestingly I could not find this option listed online, perhaps it was a unique selection for the location I was at. Hers is on the left in the picture above, as she was the birthday girl. Her dessert was moderately chocolaty and the chocolate ganache and caramel were just as noticeable flavor wise as the chocolate in the cake. My peanut butter mousse was not very strongly flavored, the chocolate ganache overpowered the peanut butter flavor, a touch more peanut butter flavor would have been welcomed.

The meal was very, very good and the prices were reasonable, if perhaps a dollar or two more than you would think you should be paying for the size dishes you got. Brio Tuscan Grill is a restaurant I would gladly take friends, family and dates to and would feel like most items on the menu would be as good as the selections we got.

Hungry Man Eats Score: 86/100

Brio Tuscan Grill has over 50 locations with an almost nationwide reach excluding the west and northwestern most states.

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