BRIO Tuscan Grille's "Moderno" Menu Twists Classics & Promotes Sharing
Healthful, balanced, and flavorful - traits sought by many menus. It looks like BRIO Tuscan Grille is shooting for the trifecta themselves with the introduction of their new Moderno menu, an incorporation of modern flair to classic, traditional dishes. The recent shift has introduced 13 new entrees to the restaurant's repertoire along with options based on diner habits; for example, shared plates and multi-course choices are now more readily available for guests. We were recently invited in to the Irvine Spectrum location see what new dishes BRIO had prepared for the Moderno menu as well as how they might have tweaked the community's favorites.
To give their appetizers a look-see, our picks to begin were their staple Calamari Fritto Misto ($11.95 - peperoncini, aioli, pomodoro) and new Chef's Seasonal Bruschetta ($11.95) which, this time, was inspired by caprese salads and featured fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. The times that I have had their calamari still proved the consistency of BRIO to deliver their fried squid with a great crunch and well-paired sauces. The bruschetta came out on a wide board and enticingly presented. They were hefty morsels that featured fresh tomatoes and basil per bite; we enjoyed the brightness of flavors.
For entrees, Duc turned to one of the new seafood options: Crab Crusted Salmon ($22.95 - roasted vegetables, farro, quinoa, lemon vinaigrette) with a side from the Moderno menu as well - Sicilian Cauliflower (capers, peperoncini, pine nuts, breadcrumbs). We had been curious what it would mean to crust salmon in crab, and what came out could be described as a flattened crab cake on top of thick salmon. The two together were hearty and placed atop the always-filling farro, made for a balanced and satisfying dish. We also enjoyed how well the cauliflower was roasted, the tart pops of flavor from the accompanying capers, and the crunch from breadcrumbs. It's a side dish you shouldn't neglect.
My own choice was their Fresh Catch of the Day ($MARKET - chef's select) which was a halibut that evening topped with some roasted tomatoes and peppers. I paired this with their Roasted Tomato Basil Fettuccine (fresh pasta, roasted garlic, Reggiano) and the addition of a single Jumbo Lump Crab Cake (+$6.95) only to realize later that the same crab mixture was in Duc's pick. The fresh catch that day was very simple at just a lone piece that was slightly dry but fair. With the fettuccine, the offering became more wholesome, and the inclusion of a crab cake was a welcomed addition for its flavor and overall weight.
Though we were hitting our stomach limit, one thing I always remembered about BRIO was that they have tempting desserts in small enough shareable sizes to justify trying one. They bring out samples to view of each type so you can determine what fits your fancy. We opted for their Caramel Mascarpone Cheesecake ($3.95 - anglaise sauce, vanilla whipped cream), a luxuriously smooth and rewarding dish that makes you want to keep digging into it. If you're interested in chasing down the Moderno menu yourself at the Spectrum, visit BRIO at 774 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618 next to the Del Frisco's Grille and Nordstrom.
Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.