Review: Brio Tuscan Grille
An old favorite, Brio Tuscan Grille, got a menu update in July. Do not panic: Favorite dishes remain, but there’s a shift back to the original concept, which is more grill-centered. We all know Brio is part of a ‘chain,’ but food, including sauces, is made fresh, in house. And now they’ve added small plates with attractive pricing and a three-course grilling menu for $28 that gives diners plenty of opportunity to customize their meals.
A new Lamb Chops Double Cut ($30) comes with your choice of a generous side dish like Sicilian Cauliflower or Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. And ‘add-ons’ are available at pretty attractive prices; the lobster tail is $10 and the crab cake, $7.
For starters, you cannot beat the Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant ($12.50), 10 seared shrimp lined up along a row of fried eggplant rounds, soft and buttery. A Kale Caesar ($7), plenty big for sharing, has lettuces, pancetta, tomatoes, croutons, parmesan and chopped egg. Also very good is the Calamari Fritto Misto ($12), which comes with two dipping sauces—aioli and marinara—but watch out for the fried pepperoncini in there. Not always the case, the squid bits were both tender and sweet.
A house favorite, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes ($23) have undergone a little revision, but are still as meaty and tasty as ever. They come with a delicious creamy horseradish sauce, crisp fingerling potatoes and delicate French green beans. Also new on the grill menu is a beefy, bone-in steak called Espresso Rubbed Ribeye ($32.50) that comes with a choice of side. The 16-ounce beauty had great texture, thanks to a crisp, very browned coffee rub, and the flavor was exemplary (this fatty cut never tastes bad). Our side of Creamed Spinach & Kale was the coup de grâce, crisp-tender greens slathered in butter and cheese.
Similarly rich was Shrimp & Lobster Fettuccine ($22.95), a massive plateful of noodles in creamy butter sauce tossed with crimini mushrooms, tomato bits and seafood and topped with oiled breadcrumbs. For a lighter dish, there’s Shrimp Mediterranean ($16.95), 485 calories, which offers spiced grilled shrimp over orzo, farro, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, feta and grape tomatoes. Fyi: If a dish here does not list calorie count, you might not want to know what that is!
A new dessert, Flourless Chocolate Cake, is dense with cocoa and comes with a nice Tuscan touch: olive oil gelato. It’s gluten-free, as are several of the new offerings in an attempt to better meet today’s special diets. The Caramel Mascarpone Cheesecake was my dessert pick, and it was stellar.
the scene | Favorite local eatery and bar
the chef | Travis Brooks
the prices | $5-$14 starters (most shareable), $17-$30 entrees
the favorites | Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant, Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Caramel Mascarpone Cheesecake, Calamari Fritto Misto, Espresso Rubbed Ribeye, Creamed Spinach & Kale
chef chat » travis brooks
culinary pedigree | I’ve worked in kitchens for the last 19 years.
favorite ingredient | Garlic
favorite cookbook | The CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly. I use it quite a lot.
favorite st. louis restaurant | Scape
most memorable dining experience | At Sydney Street Cafe with my wife, right after the birth of our son.
guilty pleasure | Bacon
1601 s. lindbergh blvd. | 314.432.4410