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Jan 19, 2009 06:11 PM

[PHX] Review of Brio, 14yr critic in the making

My family and I entered Brio, Tuscan Grille, to a friendly greeting from many members of the staff. We had the choice of sitting at a table or booth, without having to make reservations. The interior was very inviting, and had a very home feeling to it with many paintings, plants, and open viewing windows to the mall. Our waitress wore way too much perfume, which was distracting and very over-powering.
To start we were served a small basket of sourdough bread and parmesan flat bread. The menu was very well rounded, with over 30 different items to choose from. The kids menu was something you wouldn’t see at other chain restaurants, with their 5 choices of meals. Brio had a choice of 9 very different meals, and "Grande kids" for those kids that have a bigger appetite, and a build your own pizza with 9 different toppings, fresh from the brick oven. Also, you could choose from many different sides and salads! Not something you would expect on a kids menu.
We started with the roasted garlic, spinach and artichoke dip, which also came with the parmesan flat bread encrusted with herbs that went very well with the steaming hot dip. We also had the Brio chopped salad, with tomatoes, olives, onions, feta cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette, which had a very nice over-all taste.
For the main course I enjoyed the mushroom ravioli al forno, with an alfredo sauce, parmesan bread crumbs and fresh tomato chunks. It was placed in a very large bowl and
I had enough to have leftovers, a plus in my book. My father chose to have a gorgonzola encrusted filet, which you could also choose a strip steak. I had to snatch a bite from him; it was cooked perfectly at medium-rare. My mom had a grilled pork chop, and my sisters had spaghetti, and the other a grilled salmon. The adult meals had a side of potatoes and vegetables, which they were very generous with, and the kid’s meals were gigantic.
Brio at the Santan Mall, new to the area, is definitely somewhere my family will be returning in the near future. (This isn’t our first dining experience here.) As a kid, I would say that it is very kid -friendly, or where couples can go for a decent price dinners with leftovers :)

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  1. Another nice review. I've eaten at Brio locations in Orlando and Kansas City (Note: My mention of that may get this thread moved to the chains board.) and found them reasonably good -- certainly much better than most Italian chain operations like Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo.

    I hope you will try Marcellino in North Central Phoenix at your earliest convenience. I think you and your dining companions will find it outstanding as a locally-based place specializing in fresh pasta. Aiello's, also in NCP, is quite good, too.

    Marcellino Ristorante
    7114 E. Stetson Dr. 85251, Old Town Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    5202 North Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012

    1. Thank you for your review. I have not heard of, nor have dined at, Brio. Until Silverbear commented, I had no clue about it, other than your review. Also, thank you for sharing your perspective on how "kid-friendly" the restaurant is. I'm often asked for recs. based on this aspect, and have no clue, as I do not have children. It will help others in the future, and thank you for mentioning that.

      As for the waitstaff and the perfume, I do agree completely. Same for lovely floral arrangements in restaurants. If they have a scent, however wonderful, they should not be used. Nothing is worse that trying to taste my food and wine, when there's a lovely arrangement of Stargazer Lilies behind me. As we do a lot of wine events (dinners and tastings), I am always amazed when someone shows up with perfume. I always use a shaving cream and after-shave balm with no scent.

      I also strongly agree with Silverbear, on trying Marcellino Restaurante. It has many of the earmarks of a "neighborhood" Italinan restaurant, and to some degree, it is. However, I feel that Chef Marcellino takes it up several notches. It has become one of our favorite restaurants in Phoenix, and not just counting Italian restaurants. To others (of wine-buying age), look beyond the normal wine list. Chef Marcellino often has many hidden "gems," that do not appear on the printed list. Do not hesitate to ask for special recommendations. He knows his food, and he also knows his wines. Warning: these will NOT be BevMo 5¢ sale bottles, but will be worth every $ and pair wonderfully with the fare from the kitchen. Wine, or no wine, you must try Marcellino Restaurante.