I am NOT a creature of habit. Unless it’s french fries, you will rarely catch me ordering the same thing twice from a restaurant. So I LOVE when places change up their menu according to the time of year and the season, and I was delighted when Brio Tuscan Grille in Boca invited me back in to experience their “Flavorful Features” menu, and even more psyched that I could bring my momma with while she was vacationing, to experience #bloggerperks firsthand.
What I don’t get paid for in cash, I make up in free liquor, so of course my meal started with me indulging in a twist on one of my favorite drinks, the Moscow Mule. Brio’s Italian Mule is made with Absolut Vodka, Il Tramonto Limoncello and Ginger Beer. I don’t like Limoncello by itself as I find it to taste like cleaning fluid, but stirred in with the other ingredients it tastes fantastic and becomes a great replacement for a Mule’s typical lime.
Okay, honestly – when you see a dish called “Brûléed Parmesan Creme,” how do you resist it?? Answer: YOU DON’T. And that isn’t even the end of the description. This dish is served with balsamic roasted grapes and grilled ciabatta. Cheesy, caramelized goodness mixed with savory sweet fruit on top of carbs?? If I were a musician, I’d write a song about it. Too bad that these days I just sing karaoke, but I’d gladly devote a version of “I Will Always Love You” to this dish.
I know we’re only on appetizers here, but it was at this point that I found my favorite dish at Brio. The Spicy Shrimp and Eggplant: Pan seared shrimp, Romano crusted eggplant, and black pepper cream sauce. Seems simple, but this plate packs a lot of kick and a whole hell of a lot of flavor. Every bite will bring you closer and closer to nirvana. World peace? This may just be the answer.
The Grilled Salmon Salad was chock full of ingredients: Mixed greens, tomatoes, grilled asparagus, Feta, crispy shoestring potatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, and of course, a perfectly grilled salmon. I love a salad with a little crunch – okay, who am I kidding, we all know I just love potatoes – so of course I enjoyed that element. Everything else came together for a unique bite, and if you don’t want to order this as an entree, it was a great salad to split as an appetizer.
Before we get to the entrees, I gotta introduce my beautiful momma. I may not have gotten my appetite from her (that’s all thanks to you, Dad), or my style (her closet is still an homage to the 80’s but we’re working on it), but I did get my sense of fun and humor from her, and that’s priceless. By the way, she’s sipping (or should I say nursing) a glass of the White Peach Sangria, which I enjoyed and reviewed in my previous post about Brio. Not to get mushy, but I love this woman more than any dish of food. You know that’s saying a lot!
Actually, there is one more piece of business I need to get to before the entrees, and that was ordering another drink. The Cucumber Basil Gimlet caught my eye, because it has 2 of my food buzz words, Cucumber and Basil. Duh. It can be made with either Grey Goose Vodka or Hendricks Gin (I chose vodka) and is mixed with fresh basil, crushed cucumbers, Angostura bitters, and fresh lemon and lime juices. Another refreshing, well-crafted drink that went down too easily (not that I ever mind that. These are the types of drinks that are perfect for awkward first dates.)
Now, here’s where I really got to wow Mom: Crab Stuffed Shrimp & Lobster Tail, served with orzo, farro, roasted vegetables, and lemon butter sauce. What decadence! The crab mixture inside the shrimp was incredibly tasty and the lobster was cooked so well that it didn’t even need anything to accompany it, the sign of a great lobster.
But my favorite of the night? Without a doubt, the Chicken Saltimbocca. Provolone, crispy pancetta, fried sage, and butternut squash risotto. If any of those ingredients DON’T make your mouth water, then if I were you I would check my pulse, because you’re either not alive, or not human. The salty pancetta on top of that chicken, just smothered in cheese? Bite after indulgent bite I was blown away and wondering how I could get away with eating more than my fair share. The risotto was equally indulgent. I’m salivating so much while reliving this dish that I’m not sure my laptop will work from all the water damage.
To accompany our dinner, we were also looking forward to trying the Sicilian Cauliflower, with pepperoncini, lemon-garlic-caper sauce, breadcrumbs and parmesan. I was sold as soon as I heard “lemon-garlic-caper sauce,” so this was another win for me. I enjoyed how the cauliflower was slightly browned as well.
Our meal ended with Brio’s Cheesecake, coated in caramelized sugar, served on a plate of anglaise sauce, and topped with a fresh strawberry. One of the things that I have found that Brio does extremely well is to bring life to very simple dishes. That is definitely the case with this cheesecake, as the added element of the caramelized sugar made it more than just a simple cheesecake.
Just like it’s food, Brio’s atmosphere is warm, friendly, and inviting, exactly what you would expect from a traditional Italian restaurant. It was the perfect place to bring my mom, and I highly recommend it for your families as well. Remember, the menu is always highlighting new dishes, so make sure to check their website or Facebook! And don’t worry Dad, next trip down here, I promise to make you feel like the food blogger King! I’m sure by then Brio will have another grand seasonal offering – in fact, I may just set my calendar by it instead of the 4 seasons.
***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.