Not being big on chain restaurants, we decided to give Brio a try anyway after eating several of their appetizer selections at an event hosted by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.
We recently took the family to the Italian restaurant, located at 150 W. Wetmore Rd. near the Tucson Mall.
First, the thing that stood out before even looking at the menu was the décor. It’s very elegant, and gives the impression of upscale dining at a chain.
Looking at the menu, I was quick to choose bruschetta from the appetizers. As I’ve said in the past, when it comes to Italian, I love bruschetta. Since there were four of us, we chose the Bruschetta Sampler ($13.95), which provides diners with a variety of four of Brio’s house made selections.
The toppings on each of the samples was tasty. I especially liked the traditional Bruschetta, which had a balsamic glaze that was perfect with the tomato and mozzarella and roasted red pepper. The Tomato Caprese Bruschetta was my least favorite of the four, the cilantro pesto was just too strong.
One other problem with just one of the samples on the dish was the bread. It was way too hard, and was set aside, as we ate the toppings with a fork.
While waiting for the main course, Brio scored big points with our six-year-old diner, giving her a small portion of pizza dough to shape. After making a heart with the dough, she took it to the chef for toppings where they cooked it and served it with dinner. This was a lot more exciting to her than the children’s portion of Chicken Parmesan ($6.95) we had already ordered.
I had the Brio Crab & Shrimp Cakes, which has Lump crab and Gulf shrimp cakes with roasted vegetables and creamy horseradish ($22.95). The waiter assured me that four crab cakes would be plenty. The waiter was correct. The crab cakes are rather large, and are so full of filling that I was pretty full after two. I was a little disappointed in the lack of horseradish, which in many dishes adds that extra kick you look forward to.
Jon, my husband, had the Lobster & Shrimp Fettuccine, which included shrimp and lobster tossed with mushrooms, green onions and a spicy lobster butter sauce ($20.95). While the dish was rich and flavorful, the lobster was small and got lost in the dish, but there was still enough of it to add that level of sweetness you expect. But, by far the star of the dish was the fresh pasta.
Our other daughter had the Lobster Ravioli ($20.95). This dish was also well done, but like all the main entrees, there was just too much. For some reason, chains think more is better in all respects, and then we wonder why there is an obesity problem.
While we were full, we felt that especially for review purposes, we should at least try a dessert. We decided to share, going with the Torta Di Cioccolata, a rich chocolate cake with warm center topped with Vanilla Bean Gelato and chocolate syrup ($6.95). We all agreed that this dessert was indeed a good choice, with the four us fighting for each spoonful. The creamy chocolate center was perfect.
In all, the entire night’s dinner with drinks, appetizers and dessert was a little pricey, but we did enjoy the flavors and the décor enough that we decided it would be one of the rare chain restaurants we would consider returning to.
150 W. Wetmore Road
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Good food, good décor, a little too costly and large portion sizes.
(What the stars mean: A restaurant can receive up to five stars, which are based on atmosphere, food and service.)