BRAVO! Cucina Italiana: How do you say “so-so” in Italian?

Greetings Eaters and Readers!

This month’s pick was:
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana
17151 Davenport St
Fare: Upscale Italian chain – a.k.a fancy version of Olive Garden
Cost: $40 for drinks, shared appetizers, dinner and shared dessert.
Reservations: Recommended if dining on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Drinks

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Having beat her to the table by a few minutes, Jaclyn let Martha know the drink menu featured Peach Bellinis (Peach nectar, Peach Schnapps, Prosecco – $7.50). Martha didn’t need to hear anymore. Comparing it to her favorite Bellini from Charleston’s – Martha felt this one could have been a tad stronger and, as always, bigger. But that didn’t stop her from enjoying two.

Normally a self-declared beer connoisseur, Jaclyn prefers wine when she eats Italian. The White Peach Sangria ($7.95) caught her eye with its peach nectar, fresh berries, citrus fruits, Peach Schnapps and Chardonnay. It was the best part of the meal.

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The table bread was soft, warm and came with dipping oil. It was what you’d want out of free bottomless bread.

Appetizer

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Jaclyn encouraged Martha to challenge her tastebuds and agree to get the Zucchini + Eggplant Fritti ($7.99). The veggies were fried golden brown and came with two dipping sauces: lemon ailoi and pomodoro. It was a lighter choice that didn’t overstuff us before the meal. We were happy to have gone outside the box.

Dinner

While ordering her main dish, Martha wanted to add either a bowl of soup or side salad. She asked the server to describe the Italian Wedding soup:

“Um, it has like these tiny meatballs and…”

“Done. I’ll take that, please.”

A light dance of vegetables, orzo, and herbs – the Wedding could have used a few more tiny meatballs. But it did have a hearty, warm flavor that both Martha and Jaclyn agreed fit the cold weather season perfectly.

For her main dish, Martha enjoyed the Pasta Fra Diavolo ($14.99). Spicy tomato cream sauce, campanelle pasta and chicken – the subtle heat doesn’t become evident until the end of the dish. Enjoyable and satisfying, but Martha can’t say it’s a staple she’d return to again and again. She’d be content exploring the rest of the menu on a return visit.

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Jaclyn ordered the Tomato Basil Linguine ($11.99), which was a simple dish of tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and caramelized onions. The tomatoes were saturated with salt and garlic flavors. It was a good bowl of pasta, but it wasn’t mind-blowing. And she should have kept some of the table bread to soak up the saucy remnants.

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Dessert

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Jaclyn wouldn’t let Martha get the cheesecake, despite her friend’s recommendation. (Sorry, Jaclyn just doesn’t like cheesecake). So we got the Warm Cookie Butter Blondie ($5.49)  – Vanilla bean gelato, cookie butter caramel and sugared pretzels.

Jaclyn: “Man, I order the best desserts.”
Martha was too busy stuffing her face to argue.

Fork Rating

While we enjoyed the the dining experience, we asked ourselves: would this be the Italian restaurant to which we’d point an out-of-towner? No. Would we go again? Probably.

Unbeknownst to either of us, Village Pointe happened to be hosting a Christmas concert. And it was Black Friday. It limited the parking and shoved us rather far from BRAVO!. So rather than haul our giant forks with us, we had to improvise.

Please interpret this as one giant sideways fork for the both of us.

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Cheers!

Martha and Jaclyn

 

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