Brio Tuscan Grille - Market Square, Rockville
We take my mother to dinner once a week and she invariably asks to go to a chain restaurant. This week, she asked to go to Brio Tuscan Grille, which has opened a location in Market Square in Rockville (across from White Flint). It is actually one block off Rockville Pike at the intersection of Executive Boulevard and a small street that runs through the Market Square. They have valet parking which is a very, very good thing as they are apparently using the garage for the Whole Foods and that is the worst parking garage I've ever seen.
We were pleasantly surprised by the food and the service was fantastic. We went early and by the time we left at about 7:15, the wait was 50-60 minutes. I don't know if they take reservations.
The menu is large as are the portions. We really didn't expect much so I was surprised that the bread was really good - warm and yeasty, though not really Italian. More of a basic sourdough. That's OK. All some kind of flatbread with various seeds. Also very good. I had a Basil Pear Fizz and it was terrific. The Caesar was good in that it was very fresh and lightly dressed. A bit too salty. My husband and I had the lemon rosemary spiedini - three skewers of breaded chicken atop a mountain of mashed potatoes (seemed odd) and accompanied by mixed vegetables - squash, broccoli, and red peppers - and a salad of argula and onions. The spiedini was just ok, the argula and onions were terrific, the mixed vegetables only very slight overcooked. My mother had three small crab-shrimp cakes and said they were excellent. Can't go by her, though, as she will also pronounce Phillips Frozen Crabcakes to be excellent. They have an assortment of small desserts or you can order in combos. I had a small caramel mascarpone cheesecake that was tasty but too sweet. My husband had a creme brulee that was lacking in flavor but otherwise fine (texture).
The service was superb. Our waitress was brand new but really knew the menu and had obviously waited tables elsewhere as she was just wonderful. It took quite a while for the mains to arrive but that isn't her fault.
For such a big place, the noise level is actually comfortable. There's a buzz, for sure,but we could easily hear one another and talk at a regular conversational level. Perhaps that is because we were on the outer periphery of the room.
So one salad, one mixed drink, one glass of white wine, three mains, and two desserts came to $94 including tax.
This kind of place isn't our cup of tea but it really was much better than expected. In my opinion, it is not the kind of place to take kids but apparently Montgomery County passed a law against babysitters and everyone takes their kids everywhere. Fortunately, all but one was well-behaved. Only one screamer in the lot.