Brio Tuscan Grille @ International Plaza Disappoints

My first experience at Brio Tuscan Grille was one of fine excellence. My friend had a birthday dinner and we were all treated like kings. My glass would be refilled before it was even half-empty, my meal came out with great timing, and that waiters were so friendly it almost felt surreal. Impressed with their lobster bisque, I was excited to return to Brio for my aunt’s birthday. Unfortunately, my next visit wasn’t so stellar.

During this visit we sat outdoors and the waiter was less than attentive to our party. When we arrived to meet my aunt, the waiter never asked whether I wanted to order a drink and would slip away before I could ask about a drink. This was tolerable during the first-half of my meal, which was a lobster bisque, but it became considerably irritating when my pasta arrived and I had no drink to wash down my pasta.

The lobster bisque was as amazing as my last visit. I would honestly come to Brio just for their lobster bisque. It is affordable and has that creamy and sweet consistency that makes you love the soup.

The fettuccine alfredo is where the meal really took a dive. My favorite pasta is fettuccine alfredo and this was not a fettuccine alfredo. There was barely any sauce on it and the pasta was tasteless and rough, clearly under-cooked. The waiter barely returned to our table until the end of our meal for me to ask for more alfredo sauce and the main course was pretty much a disaster that could not be saved when the sauce finally did arrive.

I was disappointed in the dip Brio Tuscan Grille took in both food and service during this visit. I am not sure if it was because we ate outdoors, but I would honestly never order another pasta here. Olive Garden and Carrabba’s are far superior as far as chains go and Brio fails to even pack a punch against the amazing fettuccine alfredo at Bella’s Italian Cafe. I hope Brio will go back to having incredible service and food in the future.

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Brio Tuscan Grille

Cuisine: Italian

Address: 2223 Westshore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33607

Neighborhood: Westshore

Phone Number: (813) 877-3939

Website: http://www.brioitalian.com/

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The Pub @ International Plaza

The Pub opened a few months back at the International Mall where the Bamboo Club once stood. I have been hearing about their Roast Prime Rib Panini, which includes sliced prime rib, Guinness onions, aged cheddar and bistro sauce on a French baguette ($12.25) and decided to give it a shot. The place is booming with customers and it’s hard not to notice the building while visiting the mall. We put our names in and it took about 45 minutes (on a Sunday by the way) to get a table, but they conveniently send you a text message when your table is ready so you can walk around the mall while you wait. The first floor is your usual pub atmosphere with outdoor seating also available. Upstairs they have specialty self-serving beer, which my good friend The Cheat Seat describes well in his blog. The interior of the place is different from what you’ll find in most bars and pubs in Tampa and a great place to go with a few friends or to kick back and have a drink at the bar.

There were some interesting quotes on the walls there as well.

The waiter was attentive and checked on our drinks a few times during our meal. The food didn’t take too long to come out and was nice and hot when it arrived. My panini (pictured below) was pressed well and the cheese was melted perfectly into the sandwich. The meat was tender, but a little dry. I probably would order BBQ sauce on the side if I had this item in the future. The aged cheddar tasted great. Overall, the panini was tasty but I’m not sure if I would order it again. I think in the future I’d like to try their lamb burger (they unfortunately ran out of lamb that day). The balsamic greens on the side weren’t my favorite type of salad, but were edible.

Roast Prime Rib & Cheddar Panini ($12.25)

My friend’s burger.

Overall, The Pub is a great addition to the International Plaza and has a good variety of choices on the menu for a pub. With friendly servers and an inviting atmosphere, I can see myself visiting The Pub in the future to relax after a stressful day whether or not a trip to International Plaza is in needed.

The Pub Tampa on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: The Pub

Cuisine: European

Address: International Plaza and Bay Street 2223 N. Westshore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33607

Neighborhood: Westshore

Phone Number: (813) 443-5642

Website: http://www.tavernrestaurantgroup.com/