Restaurant Review: Bricco Bracco

You can also read this review of Bricco Bracco on my weekly column on Mount Pleasant

 You’ll be greeted by the warmth of the kitchen and the smell of garlic as soon as you walk through the doors of Bricco Bracco, the Italian restaurant located at 1161 Basketweave Drive in Mount Pleasant.
The Atmosphere
Bricco Bracco offers a comfortable and unpretentious atmosphere. The open kitchen in the back of the restaurant sends periodic wafts of Italian fare over the heads of its patrons. Though the restaurant has a family feel to it, it’s equally appropriate for date night.
The Service
The staff here is to be applauded. During my visit my entrée took almost 30 minutes to appear after my Caesar Salad. The waitress handled the situation quite well.  Our water glasses were never empty and despite being busy for a Wednesday night we were not forgotten. On several occasions the manager stepped in to freshly grind black pepper and ask if he could get us anything. Our waitress also had a great sense of humor and even appreciated my deadpan sarcasm, responding by leaving a playful note on my delicious leftovers.
The Food
Make no mistake; this isn’t an old-world style Italian restaurant. There are a few nods to traditional Italian cuisine with dishes like Veal Saltimbocca, Chicken Marsala and Eggplant Parmesan on the menu, but Bricco Bracco balances its offerings with more modern plates, too, like Spaghetti with Veal Meatballs and some in-house creations.
I began the meal with a Caesar Salad. The dressing was good, albeit disappointing. The menu promised anchovies and I didn’t detect the fish’s brininess whatsoever. The dressing was also more pesto-like than Caesar-like and the croutons were stale.
Waiting 30 minutes between courses in a small restaurant on a Wednesday night isn’t exactly a deal breaker, but it’s unwelcome. However, all of my sourness disappeared after one bite of my Salmon Bricco Bracco: pan seared salmon atop a very healthy serving of tomato basil risotto with essence of basil and French fried leeks.
There are a few dishes that indicate the quality of your kitchen staff. If you’re in a French restaurant it’s soufflé. In an Italian restaurant it’s risotto. It’s a dish that requires patience and timing. It’s not a dish that every one makes well. Bricco Bracco makes fantastic risotto. Risotto so fantastic that it may just be worth a 30-minute wait. The classic combination of tomato and basil skyrockets to a whole new level when it’s no longer limited to a caprese salad. It tastes like all the best parts of a tomato; there’s the tiniest bit of vine-ripened sweetness and a touch of tomato’s ubiquitous acidity at play in this dish. Both are brought out by subtle hints of basil. The pan seared salmon was well cooked. I appreciated that Bricco Bracco kept the salmon’s seasonings simple and let the fish’s natural fattiness and flavors shine instead of competing with the tomato basil risotto. The French fried leeks were a nice touch (although not really needed) but I won’t say no to something fried.

My friend, who tagged along for the evening, ordered the Bruschetta Pizza. As a vegetarian, she seemed pleased with the meat-free options on the menu. The Bruschetta Pizza was good: crispy pizza crust topped with plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula, Bermuda onions and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Everything was fresh and had a lot of flavor. 
The Verdict
Bricco Bracco is a good casual Italian restaurant that caters to families with children and to couples who are out for a “just us two” meal. The menu isn’t adventurous but the traditional flavors of Italy are absolutely present in their dishes. If everything is as good as the Salmon Bricco Bracco, this may be my new favorite Italian restaurant.
 Bricco Bracco. on Urbanspoon

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