Brio Tuscan Grille in Houston’s City Centre
City Centre Houston
On the west side of Houston with Interstate 10 forming the northern boundary and located just to the west of the Sam Houston tollway is a reinvention of what used to be called Town and Country Mall.
There are still some of the original stores and restaurants and even a Randall’s grocery store in this location as it was previously…but the mall and surrounding areas have taken on a new life and upscale image since the mall was demolished some years ago.
New condominium living spaces now share the thirty seven acres of pedestrian friendly grounds with a number of restaurants, businesses and retail establishments.
The luxurious Hotel Sorella accommodates travelers as well as Houstonian’s who wish to use the various amenities.
Reputedly some 500 million dollars has been spent in making City Centre an attractive space to live, dine, shop, exercise and enjoy life. Just walking the grounds with the splashing fountains, bamboo palms waving in the breezes and attractive buildings and landscaping is a far cry from the old mall…nice as that was at the time.
Brio Tuscan Grille is a chain restaurant with multiple locations throughout the United States. It is certainly an attractive addition to the mix of other dining places in City Centre and one in which my husband and I have enjoyed on numerous occasions.
To set the mood for this post…here is a video showing photos from Tuscany with beautiful music to accompany it sung by a tenor.
The salads are all worth a try at Brio Tuscan Grille.
Some of the salads are entrée portions, but even the Bistecca Insalata featured to the right is a hefty portion all on its own.
It consisted of an entire half a head of iceberg lettuce on the day of our visit with Gorgonzola, bacon, Roma tomatoes and a creamy Parmesan dressing.
With a steak knife presented in the middle of the wedge…it is something that my husband and I would both enjoy savoring again in the future. One does not need to order much else as it is quite filling…perhaps share an appetizer or a bruschetta sampler as we did on one particular visit.
On another day my husband enjoyed his Romano Crusted Chicken Salad which was served with chopped hard boiled egg, bacon, tomatoes, green onions, cucumber and a creamy Parmesan dressing. He is not fond of cucumbers and that is about the only thing that he left on his plate.
I ordered the Grilled Salmon Salad and it was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Roma tomatoes, asparagus cooked just right and still crispy, Feta cheese, the tiniest shoestring potatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing adorned the fillet of salmon. I would definitely order that salad again!
The Tuscan Harvest Salad was the very first entrée salad that I tried and it is a delightful mixture of various greens tossed with grilled chicken, mushrooms, bacon, almonds, Gorgonzola cheese, apples, dried cranberries, crispy lavosh (which is an unleavened flat bread) and dressed with an Italian dressing.
The interior of Brio Tuscan Grille is warm and welcoming as you can see from the photos above.
Much thought was given to the rustic design and furnishings. Tuscan colors are generally earth toned with warm colored accent pieces. The walls were all textured and there is much use of tile flooring. Iron accents and porcelain pieces were used to embellish certain spaces.
The artwork framed and displayed on the walls at Brio Tuscan Grille make one think of Roman times with ancient buildings, columns, city gates and other sites.
Drawings showing faces and curves of the human body are reminiscent of artists such as what Michelangelo and others would have created in their day and time.
Below is a video showing more of what Tuscany looks like in photos.
The chandeliers at Brio’s are certainly distinctive and give a warm glow to the room.
The swathes of draped cloth from a wrought iron medallion and attached to other ceiling points with the Tuscan styled chandeliers overhead make it impossible not to enjoy the visual aspect of each room from top to bottom.
One day when a special friend of ours was treating my husband and me to a Sunday brunch, it appeared that the private room was decorated with balloons and awaiting the party guest’s arrival.
Another small alcove has comfortable seating for a group of people.
Probably anywhere from ten to twelve people could be seated at this massive wooden table if they desire a bit more privacy rather than being seated in the main dining room.
All of the chairs and banquettes offer comfortable seating depending upon one’s preference.
The one place that we have not yet chosen to dine is on the outside covered patio area or the umbrella tables on the outside of Brio’s at the front entrance.
The lounge area looks inviting and we have seen many people enjoying those spaces while sipping on a libation or enjoying a snack or full meal.
Overhead fans keep the air circulating and indoor – outdoor fabric offers the look of sumptuous drapery framing the picturesque street scenes outside of Brio’s at City Centre.
Potted palm trees add to the overall ambiance of these outdoor areas at the Brio Tuscan Grille.
OK…now you readers have an idea of the décor and ambiance at Brio’s but I am sure you would like to hear more about the food. Am I correct?
The photos below show some of our Sunday Brunch items.
Our friend had ordered the Frittata Al Forno and she gave me a taste of it. Wow! It is something that I will definitely order at some time in the future so that I can enjoy an entire meal of it.
It consists of eggs, bacon, onions, spinach, artichokes, angel hair pasta, Fontina and Parmesan cheese cream. Along-side of it on the plate was some fresh fruit nestled in greens.
The Eggs Oscar was my husband’s choice of entrée. It had two poached eggs alongside a crab and shrimp cake with potatoes, grilled asparagus, artichokes, spinach and lemon butter topped off with Hollandaise.
It was good (he also gave me a sample bite) but a bit rich for me to want an entire serving.
I had the Tuscan Harvest Salad that Sunday which has already been described.
We shared a carafe of Bellini’s and started our Sunday feast by sampling the delicious bread and seed encrusted flat-breads which are served to every table as a complimentary start to meals.
For those who may be unfamiliar with a Bellini…it is a drink that uses peach nectar combined with sparkling wine…generally a Prosecco. It is yummy!
At Brio’s they serve it with crushed ice which kept it nice and cold the entire time we were sipping the drink.
Bruschetta & Flat-breads
These seem to be one of the specialties at Brio’s and they offer various types ranging from some topped with BBQ flavoring to others having seafood or even toppings that would ordinarily top a pizza. All, of course, have combinations of special ingredients making them special to Brio Tuscan Grille.
One day my husband and I decided to try their sampling of four house-made bruschettas. Eight pieces…two of each kind…were served at our table on a long plank.
All four were tasty but our personal favorite was the roasted tomato and ricotta combination. It was delicious!
The Calamari Fritto Misto was fried to a crisp golden brown color but was still tender and succulent.
Peperoncini (mild Tuscan peppers) are also fried in a batter and were a more unusual addition.
Two sauces accompany the calamari…a more usual tomato based one and a very garlicky aioli. While good, the assertive garlic taste lingered for a long time…so be advised.
I think the next time my husband and I share an order of the calamari at Brio’s we will tell them to skip the aioli sauce (although both of us love garlic) and give us more of the other kind offered.
That…or we may ask for a few extra wedges of lemon to squeeze over the fried squid which is also a great way to enjoy fried calamari.
Lobster Bisque is on the menu and is a regular offering at the Brio Tuscan Grille in City Centre.
Other soup offerings vary depending upon the day.
After sampling both, I truly enjoyed the hearty and robust clam chowder one day while my husband had his lobster bisque.
The lobster bisque according to the menu is made with some shrimp in addition to the lobster and has a touch of sherry in it although the sherry was not detected by my husband.
The flavor may have dissipated in the cooking process and might have been better served as a splash over the top much as Brennan’s restaurant offers with their famous turtle soup.
By now readers of this post certainly must know that we like Brio Tuscan Grille in City Centre, Houston.
My husband recently came back from a trip to Tuscany while on business in Italy.
No…City Centre does not have cobblestoned streets and tall cypress trees and rolling vineyard covered hillsides…but it just might have to suffice for those who cannot visit Tuscany anytime soon.
Below is a video showing the Tuscan region in Italy by Rick Steves.
Hope that you have enjoyed this look at the restaurant and some of the food through the lens of my handy digital camera and descriptions. Who knows…we just might see you there on our next visit!