By James Metcalf
Gianni’s Brio Ristorante and Pizzeria has had a home in Harrogate since 1983.
Though it has moved around the town since that time, it has also become extremely popular with local residents.
Visiting last week, there were couples, friends, and groups of people that knew the staff personally and chatted with them before being shown to their regular table at this popular establishment on Kings Road.
This familiarity extends right across the restaurant – it is not overly decorated, the menu isn’t pages long, and the whole family can be working there at any one time.
Simplicity is key at Brio’s. The fish cake to start was light, the batter was perfectly crisp, and you could taste every ingredient, each kept to a minimum of tastes that work well together, so that nothing is overpowered.
As was the case with the involtino di asparagi – asparagus wrapped in ham and cheese in pastry.
The crab with guacamole and toasted bread that came next was also a perfect summer dish. It was very light and the freshness of the ingredients, brought together to order, was easy to see.
People often say you can judge an Italian restaurant by its pasta. If this is true, Brio’s is authentic indeed, as its duck ravioli was delicious. Unlike the preceding courses, the ingredients came together to form a strong, punchy taste with lots of flavour.
Pollo paillarde – chicken in a mustard sauce with green beans, spinach, and strips of battered zucchini - was the main course.
The chicken breast was a large cut, but far from dry, and the sauce was a fantastic, bitter balance to the natural sweetness of the vegetables.
Brio’s clearly know their food and what is popular in their restaurant. Every dish came with a recommendation, and the same is true of the desert.
Espresso with three flavours of homemade gelato – including an extraordinary peanut butter and salted caramel – rounded off a genuinely terrific meal. And rumour has it these sweet treats will soon be reaching various locations around the town in a mobile desert cart.
Friendly service, food made quickly with high quality, fresh produce, a great range of flavours and wholly authentic Italian dishes make for an enjoyable evening in a restaurant that certainly knows its Italian cuisine.