Monday, February 8, 2010

Bravo for Bravo!

For most of st. louis, when someone mentions Italian food, the first they think of is The Hill. The Hill is a location of St. Louis where many of Italian immigrants settled and took up residence. The area is towards downtown and is filled with restaurants and grocers. If someone mentions Italian food and it is not on The Hill, then it is most likely a restaurant called the Olive Garden. Olive Garden doesn't serve bad food, the place is always busy, has okay service and is a great place to take small kids. But, its not, well...... as far as Italian food is concerned, if Olive Garden was a 4, then Bravo is an 8.

Bravo is the new Italian restaurant that is in the recently finished extension at the West County Mall and shares the outside area with a clothing store, a bar and a seafood restaurant. The inside of Bravo is reminiscent of the interior of the Cheesecake Factory, which shows off high ceilings, rustic decoration and interesting artwork. Bravo has this in the bar area and in the restaurant, you are instantly drawn to the large columns and stone work, suspended from the ceiling. The kitchen is completely open with the Sous Chef placing and taking the orders through the kitchen lines. There is also a nice sized brick oven there next to the prep side that looked like a giant stone igloo with fire inside.

I started my meal off with the Flatbread Roma which was a fire roasted flatbread with some tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and some olive oil. As simple as it was, it was delicious. It was perfectly balanced and it had a quality that made you just want to eat up the whole thing. This appetizer received a 3 out of 5 stars.I then ordered a salad: the Insalata Rustica which was a salad made up of Romaine, arugula, radicchio, cherries, pears, nuts and panchetta, all with a balsamic dressing. It was a good salad as when most people make a balsamic dressing, even Mr. Hubert Keller's Sleek suffered from this fallacy, they make it with too much vinegar, making an awful concoction chemically comparing itself to formula 451. Here though, the dressing was perfectly balanced and like the best salads, there was a sweet to sour balance as the cherries and pears and nuts helped balance out the meat and the plant leaves. This salad gets a 3 out of 5 stars from me.

After the salad, came a main course and I didn't want to eat too much or order something I couldn't finish so I decided to go for one of their sandwiches. I went for the mini-sliders that were meatball sandwiches. They were small, cute, tasty and little meatball sandwiches. They were overall very perfect for what I was going for and garnered about 3 stars.
The waitstaff and the decor helped pull this place into a 3 1/3 stars out of 5 for this Italian place. Overall prices were reasonable, there was no smoking and it looked like that during nice weather, they would have outdoor seating. Definitely better than the Olive Garden and about as good as most places on The Hill.

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