Dining Out: Brio Fresh Italian and Martini Bar

There’s is little that erases the strain of a long day more easily than dancing and live entertainment, intimate conversation with your closest family or friends and consistently delicious authentic Italian cuisine. Brio Tuscany Grille delivers all of the above. Providing the perfect environment for lunch or dinner, the elegant appointments and delectable food make it a no brainer for all in South Orange County. Calamari, antipasto, crab cakes, caprese – all on the menu with no traditional element spared. Try the social menu or stay for dinner and indulge in signature dishes complete with incredible locally sourced ingredients. Any occasion is the perfect one replete with excellent service by a warm and friendly staff.

This place isn’t the kind of establishment that has huge, bedazzled lights pointing to it with acrobatic sign holders out front. This restaurant respects itself in a quaint location at 24050 Camino Del Avion in Dana Point. If you didn’t know about it, you might miss it driving by. But after you read this, I guarantee you’ll make it a point to seek it out.

For starters, the Antipasto Italiano Platter arrives with an array of flavorful favorites – Prosciutto di Parma, artisan salame, fresh buffalo mozzarella, Tuscan olives, grilled artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers and toasted ciabatta bread. Yum! A seafood aficionado? Try the Mare Platter which is made for sharing: Buttermilk battered calamari fritti, seared Ahi tuna and blue shrimp scampi.

I love the wood-fired pizzas here. They don’t make deep-dish-American-football-sweatpants pizza. No. They serve handmade, thin, crispy, flaky crust pizza. I had the Con Carne Pizza – a meat lover’s dream topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, Brio house-made meatball and mozzarella cheese. You know, the kind of pie you sip wine with, reflecting on the old country while a hot steam of freshness rises poetically around you. Or, as others put it: one heck of a tasty pizza.

For heartier appetites, I recommend the USDA Prime Cut filet mignon dusted with fresh herbs and cooked to perfection with a hearty Barolo wine reduction and fresh herbed butter, and favorites like the Rigatoni Casa Brio characterized by grilled chicken breast, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, baby spinach, cremini mushrooms, sweet baby peas and fresh basil topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella.

Brio Tuscany Grille has an incredible selection of fine wines (and a full premium bar), great nightly specials and the kind of attentive-yet-unobtrusive service that makes any meal that much more enjoyable. Visit briorestaurant.com for their menu and catering options or call (949) 443-1476 for reservations. You won’t be disappointed!

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