Bria Bistro Italiano… Brio Bistro Italiano… Doing a search on both phrases on Google brings up the same restaurant with the same address. Even past reviews from “expert” critics seem to mix up the names. Regardless of what you call it, this restaurant is one of the better locally owned, upscale Italian restaurants that I’ve visited thus far in Tennessee.
What drew me here on a late Wednesday evening was the lack of drive in cooking dinner. The only viable option would be to dine out. I had a Living Social coupon that I purchased a couple weeks back. The only reason I didn’t use it sooner was due to the distance. Bria Bistro Italiano is located near the Belle Meade/Cheekwood neighborhoods of Nashville (approximately 45 minutes away from my home). For a lot of people, that drive takes you fairly far out to the East side of Nashville.
Never having used a Living Social coupon before, I wasn’t sure if I’d run into complications. After a quick call to Bria Bistro Italiano, I was informed that it was OK to use the coupon but it was recommended I make a reservation. The reason for the reservation is because Bria Bistro Italiano isn’t a large restaurant. Due to capacity issues, walk-ins may find them waiting longer than they would like. Given that advice, I made a reservation for late Wednesday.
Bria Bistro Italiano is considered an “upscale Italian restaurant” and the ambiance rings as such. It’s not so upscale where you will feel uncomfortable, but it’s not so casual where you would want to wear a t-shirt and shorts. The majority of clientele for that evening were in business casual clothing. While waiting for the hostess, I noticed the pleasant atmosphere which included warmly lit lighting and high-end furniture and decor that accompanied the medium-sized bar area and a dining room. Along the walls of the restaurant were interesting paintings available for purchase.
Like most upscale restaurants, the menu at Bria Bistro Italiano is small and selective with all items are served à la carte. The wine menu at Bria is actually larger than the food menu. Since Haley didn’t want to share any appetizers with me, I went ahead and ordered the squash soup ($7) to start off with. Haley and her insatiable quest to search for fettuccine alfredo as good as New York’s led her to request it as her entree with chicken added ($20). I had a hard time deciding what to get but in the end, it was suggested that I try the house specialty: Veal Picatta ($18).
Starting off with bread appetizer, the bread was soft from crust to center. A mixture of olive oil and a medley of spices were provided for dipping. The mixture tasted similar to seasoned salt. While a bit different than standard herbs & olive oil that I’ve been accustomed to, it was still tasty.
My squash soup arrived shortly after with a single bay leaf, olive oil drizzle, and walnut bits on top. The consistency of the soup was thick; very similar to porridge. Capturing the flavors of fall much like a pumpkin pie, Bria’s squash soup was heavily spiced with a strong sweetness.
When our entrees arrived, I noticed a mixed response from Haley. She seemed a bit surprised by her fettuccine alfredo. As I mentioned in past reviews, she has such a simplistic palate. For example, if something is on her plate that she doesn’t recognize, she “sikes” herself out to actually believe it is the worst tasting thing in the world and promptly removes it without even attempting to try it.
With that said, her Fettuccine Alfredo consisted of a Parmesan cream sauce with spinach, chicken, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomato pesto over fettuccine noodles. The item in question to her liking was the sun-dried tomato pesto. She said that if she wanted something with tomato in it, she would have gotten spaghetti instead. In her opinion, the fettuccine alfredo was much more to her liking when she removed the sundried tomato pesto, the mushrooms, and the chicken (which left just the fettuccine, alfredo sauce, and spinach). She claimed the chicken was tough and dry. In Bria Bistro Italiano’s defense, she requested that her chicken be “well done”. I explained to her that if you request that, it’s going to come out like a piece of jerky. I believe what she wanted was blackened chicken, which is totally different. Just to be sure, I taste tested her dish with the sun-dried pesto included and found it to be quite delicious. I did confirm that the chicken was very dry.
My Veal Picatta was superb and was composed of two large scaloppini-style slices of veal, artichokes, olive oil poaches cherry tomatoes in a lemon caper sauce over a pile of linguine. The veal was tender, lightly seasoned, and cooked perfectly. The veal and capers both added a salty flavor to the light, lemony-sour sauce. When combined with the al dente linguine, the entree was very filling with a combination of savoriness, saltiness, and sourness.
Last but not least, the service at Bria Bistro Italiano was superb and one of the best aspects of the restaurant. Our waitress was extremely friendly and hospitable. The runners constantly bused our table and kept our drinks filled. Although we did have to request certain items that were forgotten by the staff at different occasions (such as the bread, olive oil seasoning, and a steak knife), it wasn’t much of an inconvenience considering the frequency of visits by both the waitress and several runners.
Bria Bistro Italiano is a great little gem of a restaurant. The food is fantastic, the service is superb, and the atmosphere is pleasant. The Italian food goes beyond what you would expect at chain Italian restaurants. Chain Italian restaurants, while good in their own right, don’t go far in the realm of sophisticated tastes or culinary twists on traditional Italian entrees. Bria Bistro Italiano, while upscale, is capable of catering to those with simple palates as well as advanced ones.
|Bria Bistro Italiano
8128 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221-4214
Bill Total: $49.16 For Two