We had to try it. Having fond memories with my husband’s parents in Florida, we had to try Brio in Baltimore. Unfortunately, our excitement left something to be desired. If I could go there and just sit (and perhaps have a cocktail) while looking down Pratt Street, I would be happy.
In terms of aesthetics, the space and the location is absolutely beautiful. The space reminds me of a warmer and more intimate version of the Cheesecake Factory. Large cushy booths and enormous lights dripping from the ceiling made the space feel airy but romantic. All they need to do is get rid of the paper tablecloths (ewww). If you are going to pretend to be an upscale version of the Olive Garden, at least show off the nice white cloth table coverings.
Having opened the day before, the employees definitely put their best foot forward. We were greeted by multiple hostesses and quickly escorted to our enormous booth in the middle of the restaurant. Our server, Richard, was fantastic. He did the best that he could do while being unfamiliar with the menu and also perhaps knowing that the food was mediocre.
We ordered a bottle of wine and proceeded to choosing our appetizer while snacking on warm bread. Again, if you are going to pretend to be an upscale “Tuscan Grille” don’t ruin it by serving bread with butter. Nothing screams American!!! more than butter. Where was the olive oil with some lovely herbs mixed in?
We settled on the stuffed peppers. The appetizer quickly arrived and Richard precisely returned to refill our wine glasses. I think one phrase would sum up the food for the evening... “drowned in heavy cream”. The peppers had potential but whatever delicious flavor they could have had with the wonderful arugula sprinkled on top was killed by being drenched in heavy cream. The dish reminded me of a horrible attempt on stuffed peppers that I made from a recipe by Paula Dean (I should have known).
After the appetizer, I chose the lasagna and my husband chose the gorgonzola pasta. Again, the lasagna had potential. The meat was wonderfully seasoned and sauce was yummy. The noodles were overcooked and instead of a golden brown cheesy topping, it was covered in a layer of what seemed to be the same cream sauce used in the appetizer (yuck!). My husband’s dish suffered the same fate. He loved the fresh asparagus and tomatoes and bits of gorgonzola cheese. If that same evil cream sauce had been replaced with more gorgonzola, the dish would have been much more successful.
The highlight of the evening was the dessert. We split a tiramisu “shot glass” which was perfectly sweet and extremely cute. The size was perfect, just a few bites for each of us.
All in all, the experience was mediocre. We walked home feeling heavy after all that heavy cream. Perhaps you’ll see us sitting and not eating at the bar.