Who Went: Owen & Chelsey
Number of Visits: 1
What We Ordered: Prosciutto & Asparagus Bruschetta, Pasta Pesto, Campanelle Carbonara, Creme Brûlée
What It Cost: $59.40 (including tip)
What We Thought:
The saddest thing as a food/restaurant blogger is when you randomly go to a restaurant because you're out shopping and are super hungry, and then the restaurant you choose happens to be super good, and you are totally unprepared without your camera! So the deliciousness of the food is not sufficiently represented by your weak-sauce camera phone, but that's life I guess. So here you go. Don't judge too harshly based on the photos -- we really (surprisingly) liked this place!
As mentioned before, I have a serious prejudice against Italian restaurants. Common themes from my previous experience at Italian restaurants include "overpriced" "could have made this at home" "disappointing" and "boring." So once again, my expectations were low coming in.
I used to say that you could really tell a lot about a restaurant when the bread first comes out. Good bread = good chances. But then we went to Macaroni Grill where the bread was heavenly and the food was meh, so after tasting this pretty darn scrumptious bread (warm and crispy on the outside...mmmm) I was slightly more hopeful, but still, IT WAS AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT, so....
Then this beauty came out. I know it does not look that beautiful courtesy of my camera phone - I tried taking a closer up shot below so you could see all the details - but let me explain it to you. On each delightfully crunchy crostino, there was melted Fontina cheese (which is definitely in my top 7 of cheese), a spread of Pinor Noir soaked onions (which made them taste almost like caramelized onions, but with a sweeter, richer taste and less slime), some perfectly al dente asparagus, topped with some actually decent prosciutto (perfectly salty and tender). Put it all together and WOW. What a wonderful flavor kick in the mouth! That sounds weird, but really, these bruschetta may be one of the best parcels of flavor I've had in a long time. I just want to eat it every day!!! I was super on the border about ordering this appetizer, because calories, blah blah blah but OMG I AM SO GLAD WE GOT IT, IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!!
Just, just try it. Please.
Extremely excited to receive our pasta dishes after that stellar appetizer, we tried Owen's campanelle carbonara first. First off, can we just talk about how fun these pasta were shaped? Apparently campanelle means little bell in Italian, and I never knew how much I wanted to eat bell-shaped pasta until I tried it. Anyway, a super delicious alfredo sauce paired with grilled chicken, bits of crispy bacon, shredded sharp Parmesan cheese, and a little spinach, just so you can pretend there was anything healthy about this. Um, yeah this was straight up comfort food baby, and it did the job. And it did it good. If you're looking for that Italian dish that just feels like heavenly indulgence with every bite, this is what you need.
I was in the mood for something lighter - I told Owen before we got there that I just wanted something light with fresh, flavorful vegetables that I wasn't going to regret too much after eating, preferably with a lot of basil, because basil is awesome. The Pasta Pesto (though not as pesto-y as the name may suggest) definitely fit the bill for me. It was just a classic dish with simple components, each done extremely well. Here we had really delightful angel hair pasta (its so funny how you forget how delicious regular pasta is after you've only had whole-wheat pasta for a while...) topped with loads of spinach, tomato, roasted red peppers, grilled chicken, caramelized onions, basil and sprinkled with some feta cheese. To me, it was summer in a dish. And to make it even more bright and delicious, I asked our server (who had a really enjoyable British accent) if he could bring me some lemon, which I squeezed over the whole thing and sent me off the edge. Aaahhhhhhhh. THIS is my kind of Italian food. Don't torment me with pounds of salt and butter which mask what might have been food under there -- the more simple, the better when it comes to most food, and this was no exception. As Alice Waters said, "Let things taste of what they are." Amen, sister.
And since we really did not want the whole thing to end, after boxing up half our pasta dishes to go (not-so shabby portion sizes here), we HAD to order the crème brûlée, which was so divine, it inspired me to run back into Crate & Barrel at the mall and promptly purchase my own kitchen torch so I could try making it again at home.
What You Should Do: Honestly (like really, honestly), I cannot believe I am saying this, especially considering I've always kind of associated Brio Tuscan Grille with malls (they have one at City Creek too), but you have to try this place! I really hope we were not the exception here and I am not leading you all miserably astray, but we had such a delicious meal here, and I finally have a reason to go out for Italian food again! I mean, you really can't buy bell-shaped pasta at Macey's (I think), and somehow it just tastes better in that adorable shape :) If you're craving Italian and are finally ready to cut off the chains which bind you to the hour+ long waits at Olive Garden, Brio is definitely the place to go!