It's seems that my cravings for Risotto (here recently) all point to one place, the Brio Tuscan Grille in Houston's CityCentre. Don't get me wrong, I have tried "better" Risotto from many different restaurants, but the first "unique" take on Risotto I had tasted thus far in the Houston area happened during lunch one day at Brio's.
Before CityCentre blew up to be the mega "scene" that it is today, I had visited Brio to try their "Sweet Potato & Chicken Risotto". This creamy dish is made with pancetta, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pine nuts...crazy right! At first glance that just sounds like a bunch of "stuff", buy hey, I went for it! Several months had passed and I once again craved the same...
The Brio Tuscan Grille in CityCentre has the coolest setup and with our weather here lately, it is a great place to have a cocktail, enjoy some Risotto, kick your feet up, listen to their soothing music, and people watch (of course, if you are into that sort of thing!). Since my hubby and I were in the mood for Italian, I recommended Brio. He is so into trying something new and I have fun just seeing if the next place will "impress" him. After choosing a seat out on the patio, so we could check out the cool rides and enjoy the scene, we ordered a few beers and became instantly overwhelmed by the menu. Man, there are a lot of choices! I have never been a fan of long menus, and have always opted for the Houston's Restaurant style menu where they give you about 10 things to choose from...lol! But, it was an easy choice for me...I came for the Risotto!
We ordered the Sausage, Pepperoni & Ricotta Flatbread (Fresh Mozzarella and housemade tomato sauce) and the Seared Shrimp Risotto (With fresh basil, peperonata, fire-roasted tomatoes and a pesto drizzle). Their flatbread pizza is amazing and the crust is baked to perfection. It is very, very thin. The crispiness of the crust paired with the homemade sauce and mini mounds of ricotta is killer good! The Risotto was over the top flavorful (almost too rich for my blood, if there could be such a thing). The fire roasted tomatoes blended well with the creaminess of the dish and the pesto drizzle set it off. Dinner was good and even though I couldn't finish my risotto (gotta save room for desert) my hubby finished it off for me. What a guy :-). I have heard mixed reviews about Brio, but I would assume with a menu so expansive, something is bound to be bad. On the other hand, many of the reviews have been about their customer service. I guess going at 9:30 p.m on a Sunday helped us out!
Soon after we completed dinner, our waiter tempted us with dessert. He brought out a display of mini/personal desserts called "Dolchino's". There were six choices:
Mocha Panna Cotta - A vanilla bean panna cotta topped with chocolate syrup, crumbled chocolate chip cookies, mocha mousse and chopped chocolate
Milk Chocolate Caramel Cake - A decadent chocolate cake, layered with milk chocolate ganache, caramel, rich chocolate frosting and vanilla whipped cream
Key Lime - the traditional key lime pie but layered with all the goodies
Tiramisu - Lady fingers layered with coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese and cocoa
Cheesecake - Cheesecake layered with berry compote, cheesecake crust, cream cheese icing and topped with a spig of mint and a raspberry
Carrot Cake - Traditional carrot cake with a cream cheese icing and drizzle of caramel
I am a chocolate girl all the way, but we opted for the Cheesecake and the Key Lime Pie. Bad choice - The Cheesecake Dolchino was pretty bad. The cheesecake was actually the only edible part. The berry compote was wayyyyy bitter; almost too bitter to be eaten. I ended up scrapping around it to get the cheesecake. The key lime on the other hand was worth the $3. After my craving for Risotto had been tamed, I was good with dessert being mediocre! Brio Tuscan Grille is good for a quick Italian meal, but there are way better places in Houston for the price point. And remember..."It's not just about the food; it's about the experience".
~ Shanna "Urban Girl" Jones, Urban Swank