Brio Tuscan Grille
3029 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098
He ate: I didn’t hate this place but I didn’t love it either. It’s not a place I would ever suggest going, but if someone else did I wouldn’t object to it. I know they’re new but every time I ordered something our waiter would be like “Which one? Wait, point it out to me.” I mean, how do you not know your menu? Even though the atmosphere was kind of cheesy, I really liked this place. It’s comforting food and you know exactly what you’re going to get…and it’s probably going to be better than what you expect.
She ate: Brio…a couple of notches above Macaroni Grille, but several notches below Coppa and Michelangelo’s. I just don’t really see why you would ever come here when there are other much better Italian restaurants for about the same price in the same area. In the case of Brio, you can pretty much tell the level of the food by the ambiance and interior of the restaurant alone. Those bunched up 80s drapes…yeah. Even though our waiter wasn’t super experienced, he did make good suggestions about the appetizers and he was really nice in general.
We settled on the 2008 Fattoria Del Cerro Montepulciano:
He ate: They were super nice and allowed us to try two different wines even though one of them was sold only by the bottle, not by glass. HOWEVER. The glasses smelled like bleach. It was really weird. Mike (from 13 Celsius) would have thrown a shit fit. They do not treat their glasses very well. I couldn’t tell if the wines we tried were good. Actually, I kind of hated them because I could smell was the bleach. Bleach aside, the first wine I really didn’t like. It tasted totally off. Also, our waiter knew nothing about wine. We asked him why there was a Montepulciano wine in the “Tuscan” section of the wine list and another Montepulciano in the “Regions” section, and he said he doesn’t drink. Still, I think if you’re a waiter in a restaurant with a wine list, you should be knowledgeable about wines. The wine we ended up getting went really well with the entire meal and I was quite happy with it.
She ate: I was pleasantly surprised by several things. They had a pretty good (although not extensive by any means) wine list. Of the three reds we tried, I would have been happy to get a bottle of any of them. I did have to hold my breath to eliminate the bleach smell in order to judge the wines, which is no bueno. The bleach…yeah. I have never had that happen before but I’m chucking it up to an unfortunately freak occurrence. The Frattoria was a very salt-to-the-earth, typical Tuscan red, and I highly recommend it.
He ate: It was $6, which for that price was pretty damn good. Not enough sherry but I’ll still take it! You could get three of those and be super full…or for a dude you could get three of those and be super full for $18. And you’d be eating a lot of lobster bisque!
She ate: Y’all know by now if lobster bisque is on the menu, Aaron will always get it. This was one of the best lobster bisques I’ve had and well worth the $6. Good flavor and plenty of lobster meat chunks.
Bruschetta Quattro Sampler: roasted red pepper bruschetta (fresh basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a balsamic drizzle), sliced steak bruschetta (gorgonzola Dolce, arugula, fennel, charred tomato, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tuscan Italian dressing), Mediterranean bruschetta (slivers of pepperoni, green olives and peppers), chilled tomato caprese bruschetta (roma tomatoes, yellow cherry tomatoes, Mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, basil, Reggiano and housemade cilantro pesto)
He ate: When I think bruschetta I think oh, I can’t make pizza well so I’ll make bruschetta. That’s usually the first thing that comes to mind for me when someone suggests bruschetta. But this dish was super smart. I hate bell peppers and gorgonzola, both of which were in this dish and I didn’t even notice them because everything was so damn delicious. This was a huge dish—it was bigger than my actual entree.
She ate: Oh my LORD these were good! I’m usually not a fan of bruschetta. I think stale bread, stupid tomatoes always falling off, too much garlic and not a lot of other flavors. These have changed my mind! Thank goodness we followed our waiter’s advice and got these. The steak one was my favorite. It had just enough gorgonzola but not too much for it to be overpowering, and the steak was tender and flavorful. The mozzarella on all of them was rich, creamy, and the bread was buttered just enough for everything to meld together. Amazing.
Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli with Crab Insalata (lemon vinaigrette, a Limoncello butter sauce, tomato capote and arugula)
He ate: What’s the deal with only getting six raviolis at restaurants? When you order pasta you get half a pound of pasta. When you get ravioli you get four fucking raviolis. I don’t understand it! I guess it’s because raviolis they make in house and pasta they just order it from somewhere? Anyway, I actually didn’t mind that the portion was small because I was already pretty full from the bruschetta. Like I said, I like this place because it’s comfort food. If I had a bad day, I’d come here, order the bruschetta, ravioli, and a glass of wine I would be really happy. It’s savory, not too heavy and I don’t feel shitty after eating it.
She ate: I thought this was ok. The filling was fresh and flavorful but overall the dish was nothing to write home about. I do agree about the atmosphere. It was a mix of the River Oaks crowd, yuppies, and your parents. I kind of like that.
Lobster and Shrimp Fettucine (shrimp and lobster tossed with mushrooms, green onions and a spicy lobster butter sauce) AVERT YOUR EYES I am sorry this picture came out crazy bright. I am very, very sorry.
He ate: this pasta is inedible. It was super spicy! I gave it two tries, then at the end of the meal I tried it again and I just could not eat it. It did go well with the wine.
She ate: I somehow missed the “spicy” part in the description when I ordered this dish. I have a pretty high tolerance for spicy so it was fine but still a surprise to me! I was in the mood for something a bit more creamy but the dish was still pretty good. The shrimp and lobster were plenty and fresh, and I really liked the cremini mushrooms thrown in as well. The pasta was cooked between regular and al dente. I prefer al dente but this texture was still fine by me. Aaron couldn’t eat this because he’s a giant spice pussy.
He ate: The bread was ok, and it was really only ok because it was fresh and hot out of the oven. Not all that great. And our waiter was very forgetful. I do hate the fact that you now have to ASK for bread. What the hell is that all about!? Either you don’t offer bread at all or you bring it out automatically. That’s the way it should be. I don’t want to have to ask for it. That’s just fucking bullshit.
She ate: Ah, the much awaited and anticipated bread basket. Gael Greene brought up an interesting point in her latest post about how bread is never brought out anymore. Is this a trend now? Either they charge for bread, or you have to ask for it. Rarely do they just bring it out nowadays (other than a few restaurants, namely Max and Julie’s, Haven, and Capital Grille. Thank god for these restaurants!) Anyway, I asked for some bread and our waiter said it would be “one minute” because they’re making some fresh loaves. It didn’t actually come out until after they brought out our entrees…and the bread really was not very good. He also mentioned there was a parmesan dressing he brings out with the bread and he highly recommend dipping the bread in the dressing…which never came out. Overall the service, although well intentioned, was confused and a bit slow. I measure certain things against the greatest denominator. For example, bread at an Italian restaurant should at least be as good as the bread at Macaroni Grill. This did not measure up to par. If you’re interested, here are my other standards: tortillas should always be as good as Taco Cabana’s, churros should always be as good as Costco churros, etc, etc.
Milk chocolate caramel cake (a decadent chocolate cake, layered with milk chocolate ganache, caramel, rich chocolate frosting and vanilla whipped cream), carrot cake (carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, walnuts), and tiramisu (lady fingers layered with coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese and cocoa)