The new menu at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana is fresh, casual, and comforting without at all feeling heavy. Last night my mom was in Fort Worth and we had the pleasure of meeting Chef James Nichols and sampling BRAVO!’s new menu. Let’s go through it together, shall we?
You already know I’m a Bourbon girl and therefore a fan of any good old-fashioned. BRAVO!’s just happens to be updated with my all-time favorite alcohol, Disaronno Amaretto. Served on the rocks with an orange slice and maraschino cherry, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day.
The strawberry fresca martini is so fun for summer. The muddled fresh strawberries make you feel somewhat righteous about drinking it – there are less healthy martini choices! The lime juice really pops against the strawberry rum. It’s ice cold and totally refreshing.
Don’t you want to just dive in?
Chef brought out the very two salads I would have struggled to choose between: the antipasto and caprese. Mom preferred the antipasto; I preferred the caprese. The antipasto had provolone, red onion, black olives, marinated red peppers, basil, oregano, sopressata (Italian dry salami) and romaine lettuce tossed with a red wine vinaigrette and topped with parmesan cheese. The lettuce was crisp and the salad was a generous size for the price.
The caprese salad included four thick-cut tomato slices, four slices of mozzarella, basil, balsamic drizzle, and quite a bit of fresh lettuce with parmesan on the side. I could eat caprese salad for lunch any day of the week, especially when the tomatoes are this fresh.
This was a total treat. I would never, ever think to order meatballs as an appetizer and I wouldn’t be particularly drawn to fried zucchini. Trust me, you need the meatballs and the fried zucchini. The meatballs are a mixture of Italian sausage and beef with a heap of ricotta and smothered in pomodoro sauce, served with garlic toasts. This is genuinely one of the best meatballs I’ve ever eaten. They’re unbelievably tender!
The fried zucchini and eggplant was my favorite dish of the night. I wanted to pace myself but I really regret leaving so many of these little guys in the basket. I loved this dish instantly because of the presentation. Why don’t I serve more food on newspaper? The zucchini and eggplant strips are lightly breaded and delightfully crispy. The lemon aioli makes them sing. Mom’s thoughts? “I need both of these sauces in bottles to take home.”
I wish y’all could have seen my mom’s face when we realized the pizza had dollops of ricotta all over it. She was so sad to say goodbye to the ricotta served with the meatballs but again, we had to pace ourselves! This is the Pizza BRAVO! with sopressata (Italian salami), housemade ricotta, pepperoncini, Mozzarella, crushed red pepper, basil, drizzled with that beloved lemon aioli. We had so much pizza left over that we enjoyed it today for lunch and I can tell you: it reheats beautifully. It does pack quite a punch so if you’re not into spicy, try one of their other pizzas instead.
Another dish I wouldn’t have thought to order was the Tomato Basil Linguine, a simple Italian classic made with BRAVO!’s fresh linguine noodles, caramelized onions and garlic in a slow cooked tomato compote and topped with fresh basil. This was so comforting to me because it’s similar to the pasta I make a variation of at least once a week. It was fresh and flavorful. The ripe tomatoes and basil shines through. The housemade noodles really elevates the dish.
New to the BRAVO! dessert menu is the Cookie Butter Blondie. If you love Trader Joe’s cookie butter, you’ll swoon over this dessert. A warm cookie butter blondie is topped with vanilla bean gelato, drizzled with cookie butter caramel sauce and garnished with sugared pretzels. It’s salty, it’s sweet, and it would go down awfully nice with an old-fashioned.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also tried the dessert trio with cannoli crumble, vanilla bean creme brûlée, and a warm chocolate peanut butter brownie. Mom’s favorite was the cannoli (and yes, she did happily say, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” while eating this dessert) and mine was either the peanut butter brownie or creme brûlée. I rarely order creme brûlée because I’m such a chocoholic but a great creme brûlée is a solid end to any meal.
All in all, BRAVO!’s new menu is as bright and cheerful as their friendly staff. Get comfortable and stay for a while because you’re going to want every course. Don’t live in North Texas? No problem! BRAVO! Cucina Italiana has locations in over twenty states. Find a BRAVO! near you here.
Ciao for now,
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Disclaimer: This article is intended to be a general resource. Any recommendations are based on personal opinion. A portion of this meal may have been compensated but opinions are my own, always. I’m not a fan of negativity so if I don’t like something, I don’t write about it.