Brio Downtown is a bit more upscale than the classic Italian cuisine. The menu is predictable with appetizers such as grilled calamaretti, fried calamari, Caprese, beef carpaccio, and antipasto. The entrées also don’t stray far from the Italian restaurant stereotype with a prosciutto and mozzarella panini, tagliatelle a la bolognese, vegetable linguini in an olive oil sauce, veal cutlet and seafood stew.The rest of the dishes fit into the “basic Italian” category with some slight variations made by the chefs.
The dishes I tried (2 appetizers and 1 entrée) were good, but they lacked surprise and originality. The beef carpaccio had the usual Parmesan cheese, truffle oil and arugula, the grilled calamari tasted, well, like charred calamari with a hint of lemon, and the penne a la vodka with mozzarella was creamy with a well-blended sauce. Yes, all these dishes were edible and pleasing to the tastebuds, but the problem with Brio (in my eyes) was the lack of innovation.
Beef Carpaccio (Carpaccio di Manzo): classic light-weight, thinly sliced beef, parmesan cheese, arugula and truffle oil
Grilled Calamari (Calamaretti Alla Griglia): tender yet charred, lemon flavor, and juicy on the inside — favorite appetizer
Penne a la Vodka: originally the Pennette con Pomodoro e Mozzarella, but you can ask for Vodka sauce. Creamy, and delicious, but I would recommend trying the Chef’s original Pomodoro. Big chunks of mozzarella are always a plus.
If I wee to return to Brio (downtown or uptown) for dinner, I would want to try the Tagliata di manzo con arugula (sliced Angus sirloin served with arugula, tomato salad and shaved parmesan), La Bufalina pizza (bufala mozzarella, basil, cherry tomatoes, light tomato sauce, extra-virgin olive oil), or the Mezzelune ai Funghi con Burro e Salvia (homemade half-moon ravioli stuffed with mix mushroom, butter & sage sauce).
When it comes to the atmosphere, Brio is cute, and pretty upscale. Here is a photo from Eater NY to give you a sense of the ambiance. Click the photo for the original link.
At the end of the day, Brio was a fine Italian cuisine with pleasing food and high-priced entrées. However, compared to all the one-of-a-kind, stand up restaurants in New York, Brio doesn’t really stand a chance.
Note: If you want to try brio, there is also a location on the upper east side.
New York, NY 10010