The Pretty Girls Guide To Baltimore Restaurant Week: Brio Tuscan Grille Review

Sunday, August 10, 2014


GAHHHH I was SUPER excited this past week guys!

Why you ask?  *Drum roll* because it was restaurant week here in Baltimore!!!  

If your not familiar with what restaurant week is, its when restaurants (chain or not) in your city put together special menus, sometimes consisting of their signature dishes and limited time items on a 3 course set up (appetizer, main course, desert) for one set price. Here in Baltimore most of the restaurants that participate are the best of the best and normally a bit pricy. But for restaurant week a full lunch will run you only $15.00 and a full dinner will can range between $20.00 and $30.00. Which clearly is a far cry from what a three course meal would cost at any of the restaurants on a regular night.

So you can probably understand with my sometimes frugal ways why I was so amped up lol. Every time restaurant week comes around I try to visit as many places as I can. Unfortunately this time my work schedule has been super hectic so I only got to go to one restaurant. But that was ok because I mad it a girls night and after my week good food and laughs were definitely needed!

 My friend Bell was actually the one to set the reservations up and said our trio would be dining at Brio (ha! see what i did there lol) Tuscan Grille. I had actually never heard of Brio, which was a little bit odd for me, although there are a lot of restaurants that participate in restaurant week that I've never been to, I've normally heard of them or know about them in the Baltimore area. So I had no idea what to expect but I was excited...and hungry lol =)

I do have to admit I did scoping out of Brio online before I left home and I even checked out their Instagram feed to see what their food looked like lol. I had to check under the hashtag though, I wanted the real scoop lol not just what they posted to their instagram lol. During my snooping I was surprised to find that Brio is actually a chain restaurant, very few restaurants that participate in Baltimore restaurant week are chains. However that works out for you guys because if my review happens to tickle your fancy, you can look to see if there is a Brio in your area and try it out for yourself!

LE REVIEW (Fancy I know lol)

The girls and I arrived at Brio about 20 minutes late for our reservations due to traffic from the  Ravens game *side eye*. The streets were madness a normal 20 minuet drive turned into an hour for my friend Bell. I was sure once we arrived we were going to be turned away or put on a waiting list however we were met with a warm smile and the phrase no worries from Corey (who I initially thought was a host) and we were seated immediately. Although they were not super busy I was still  impressed with Corey's cheerfulness and warm attitude, normally when you arrive late for a reservation busy or not you are met with some sort of...well...attitude.

Aside from still letting us keep our reservation I was immediately impressed by Brio's ambience it's described as the Tuscan Grille and their decor really makes you feel like you are smack dab in the middle of Italy at some amazing tuscan home.

They had grand arching ceilings, a large open seating areas, patio doors flung open that lead out to more seating that not only gave the feeling of extended space and openness but a classic Italian feel as if you were on some picturesque street in Italy. To put it simply this Brio is beautiful.


So its pretty obvious if we were rating on ambience alone Brio would be getting a 10! We honestly sat there looking around for a good 5 or 10 minutes before we even picked up our menus lol. 

Speaking of menu I was very impressed with what Brio offered for restaurant week,  they gave a decently large selection of main course items that included something for everyones taste. 

Brio's resturant week menu
When you go to a restaurant during restaurant week you have the option of actually ordering from the special "restaurant week menu" or their regular expanded menu,  however if you order off the regular menu your price will not adhere to the special restaurant week prices. There are no substitution so I advise all attending their cities restaurant week to check out the menus before hand =)

I quickly decided my dinner would be the Shrimp Fra Diavolo it sounded super tasty and I was interested how 

I quickly decided to get the Shrimp Fra Diavolo as my main course because I absolutely love shrimp and picked the Caesar salad start and tiramisu as my dessert. I liked that we ordered everything at once, if you give me too long to make a choice ill take all day to decide lol. 

While waiting for our food me and the girls got a chance to catch up on some things and people watch through the patio doors as people walked around Baltimores inner harbor. 

Our first course came quickly, the Caesar salad was a good portion and presented well. The lettuce was crisp there was just the right amount of dressing. Personally I would've preferred more croutons, just because I'm a big crouton person. Come to think of it I'm sure I could've asked for more but it didn't even cross my mind at the time.

There were fresh peppercorns cracked on the salad also which made it a bit more spicy or I guess peppery lol then I expected it to be. It definitely caught me off guard and I had to take a few sips of water after big bites.

But all in all it was very good salad, I have had horrible experiences in the past at restaurant with soggy lettuce and just overall salad that wasn't fresh and as a rule of thumb for me if your salad was bad you should be worried about the rest of your meal lol

The second course arrived soon after our salad plates were cleared. I decided to go a little different from what was actually on the menu, I change my pasta to Penne instead of the Campanelle that was originally offered. I've never had that noodle before and after looking it up while I was sitting at the table I decided that today would not be the day to try it lol.

The pasta came in a delicious tomato sauce, it's wasn't like your normal spaghetti sauce it had more flavor with a kick. Its described as a cream sauce but it wasn't super thick or heavy, it was actually a great texture and as you can see from the picture Brio stuck with Italian tradition and went light on the sauce which I loved. My pasta was more so coated in the perfect amount of sauce rather than drowned in it.

 I was really pleased with the first bite the shrimp was cooked perfectly, the noodles not over done and the flavors paired very well together. I was also impressed by the initial presentation of the pasta when it came out it was perfectly situated in it's dish and our waitress graded fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top to our liking. That is always a nice touch, again Brio kept with that very authentic Italian tradition.

  Having well plated and appetizing looking food always makes a dining experience that much better. Food isn't just about the taste it really is really an experience, the way it makes you feel the way it looks, the company your in its all part of it and my plate definitely made me happy.

 I also ordered a drink while I was dining at the recommendation of the bartender, Im not exactly sure of the name and I looked but can't find it on the website. It was a strawberry flavored spritzer of sorts with prosecco and muddled basil. I had imagined it to taste more like strawberries but once it arrived at the table, the color alone let me know that it wouldn't. The strawberry flavor was very light whereas the basil was very prominent, it came off more as a bubbly basil version of a mojito, which if your a fan of mojito type drinks would be perfectly fine...I however am not. The drink was not bad, just not at all what I expected. If the first word in the title of your drink is strawberry I expect it to taste like strawberries.

Long story short the drink did not make it to the end of the meal. I flagged down Corey who had been so sweet before and asked if it was possible to have it removed from the tab to which he replied, "of course anything is possible". Again AMAZING SERVICE and attentiveness from Corey. I let him know that I was very pleased and I wanted to thank him for the great service he had given us from the moment we walked in and he simply said, "well thats my job".

LOVE LOVE LOVE Corey...who we later found out was not a host and was actually the on duty manager LOL! Either way he really did impress with his bubbly personality and dedication to provide a great service and experience for his guest. Even prior to the drink mishap he had checked on us just because and we constantly saw him going all over the restaurant tending to things. I may not have much to say specifically about our server but Corey definitely stole the show in the service category.

My last course was desert, when my tiramisu arrived I was underwhelmed. I was expecting a slice of cake and instead was presented with a glass of tiramisu. I didn't however look like this when I got it lol I had already started eating and then remembered to take the picture. It was originally presented very nicely but was not what I had envisioned. As far as taste it was, ok nothing particularly amazing however I was already stuffed so I was not going to finish it anyway.

Over all, I was very pleased with my first experience at Brio. I was super pleased with the food minus the tiramisu, as you already know I was completely in love with the atmosphere and ambiance. As far as the Baltimore Harbor location is concerned, aside from game days it is very convenient and Brio validates parking so it only cost $5.00 to park in the garage attached the the building Brio is in instead of the normal $15.00. Service outside of Corey was a 6.5 out of 10, our waitress was not very attentive to us, when bringing drinks she didn't provide us with straws, checking on us came few and far between and she didn't seem in the best of moods. However if I had to grade my overall experience I would give Brio a 8 out of 10. 

I would go to Brio again even outside of restaurant week and would suggest it to anyone looking for a  restaurant to take family members or friends to over the weekend.

I would like to thank Corey so much again for being simply amazing and if you stop by the Baltimore harbor location and you see him tell him the pretty girls guide sent you!

Until next time
XO Deanna  


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