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Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Brio's special offering of a 'Tale of Two Risottos' features pairing with lobster, pictured, or sea scallops.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 3 years ago

Restaurant Review: Brio Tuscan Grille

Experience a tasty 'Tale of Two Risottos' at Brio through March 27.
by: Josh Garrick Columnist

At Brio Tuscan Grille restaurants (we’re lucky to have two of them in Central Florida), they truly do work to bring the special tastes of the Tuscan countryside to our tables with fresh-daily ingredients and Tuscan-inspired recipes.

While it has been years since I first reviewed the wonderfulness of a Brio restaurant, I often find myself going back for their homemade pasta specialties and flatbreads prepared in their authentic Italian oven. So I saw it as an opportunity to visit the Brio at Winter Park Village as they present a “Tale of Two Risottos” at both Orlando locations through March 27. This is particularly exciting because risotto, when done well, is one of the reasons so many of us choose Italian cuisine as our favorite cuisine in the world.

Hence my use of the word “opportunity” in terms of being able to try both risottos while the promotion offers us two distinctive risotto dishes (available at both lunch and dinner) for the price of $19.95.

Before the taste of the risottos, however, my guest and I enjoyed two appetizers, and yes, we always share. You already know that the presentation at Brio is always a delight, but I must mention that both of our appetizers were beautifully plated. And their disparate tastes happened to work very well together. I chose the half serving of the Beef Carpaccio, which was plenty, especially when shared with the Bruschetta Quattro ordered by my friend.

The Beef Carpaccio is beef in its purest form – so thinly and delicately sliced that one forgets it is beef. Served with a handful of greens and decorated with a subtle mustard aioli, it is an appetizer to be eaten slowly – just to make the wonderful sensation last longer. Enjoying it with a full serving of the four bruschettas was perfection, and I do recommend the full serving of the four as this offering comes with two each of four distinct tastes on those crunchy home-made bruschettas. Spoiler alert! Should you wish to be surprised by the four varied offerings, move on to the next paragraph… As for you who are still with me – I love telling you that of the four unique creations: 1. Sundried tomato, 2. Steak tenderloin with greens, 3. Shrimp ‘dressed’ with a kind of lobster bisque, and 4. Red pepper confit served over fresh mozzarella, I honestly can not tell you which I enjoyed most. It’s a perfect serving for two, and would be a terrific complement to an after-work stop at Brio during their happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

And now – the happy “Tale of Two Risottos.”

To begin with, risotto is a rich and delicate blending of cheese, butter, cream and rice that demands expertise in its preparation. And while I admire those who “attempt this at home,” there is little reason to make the attempt when we are given a choice between a perfectly prepared, creamy risotto served with a choice of either broiled cold water Maine lobster or a serving of sea scallops resting on a combination of risotto and vegetable ratatouille. At Brio both dishes are dusted with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

That paragraph is worth re-reading, especially when I remind you that either dish may be enjoyed for the price of $19.95 each. The Winter Park Brio served 118 orders of the lobster risotto on Valentine’s Day alone.

The sea scallops offering consists of five large, beautifully cooked scallops served over a savory bed of vegetable ratatouille and risotto. Thankfully the scallops were seared and cooked through, and while that may seem an odd statement, I’ve been experiencing under-cooked scallops in restaurants lately. I love sashimi, but when it comes to scallops, I want them cooked. Brio understands the difference and has created a mildly spiced and thoroughly enjoyable dish.

The risotto served with the lobster tail is more traditionally creamy, but you don’t really notice, because you first get to enjoy a whole (moderately sized) lobster tail with the meat removed and placed on top of the tail. When it arrived, I realized it’s been a while since I had eaten a perfectly prepared lobster tail (of any size), and Brio’s presentation offers exemplary plating. The broiled lobster tail is served over traditionally creamy risotto with loads of shrimp, mushrooms, asparagus, and peppers.

And both choices are highly recommended.

To add to the celebration, Brio is offering a wine pairing for either of the risotto dishes. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Conundrum wines, Brio recommends Conundrum white blend or red blend at $11.95 per glass.

And so, my dear foodies, you have “The Tale of Two Risottos,” and while I wish I could say, “We all lived happily ever after,” I must remind you that the celebration – not unlike Cinderella’s ball – will end at midnight on March 27. I highly recommend you make your reservations now – ball gowns not required.

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