By EMILY ISELEY, Media and Technology Beat Reporter
Location: 4910 Big Island Drive, near BlackFinn American Grille and Seasons 52
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (SCPDA) -- The first in Northeast Florida, Brio Tuscan Grill is adding to the popular, high-end restaurants that continue to emerge in the St. Johns Town Center.
From 11 a.m. to closing time, Brio is filled with people there looking for not only for a delicious meal, but a great location for reconvening with friends and family members. Featuring an enclosed pavilion, bar, private dining room, open kitchen, and a spacious main dining room, the restaurant seats more than 300 people. The carpets, draperies, potted palm trees, and a ceiling reaching approximately 30 feet with a sun roof, provides the restaurant with natural lighting and a warm and inviting atmosphere, if not too extravagant. The popularity of the restaurant keeps the dining room filled at almost all hours, yet there's no feeling of the restaurant being too noisy or overcrowded.
I must say that I was impressed with the staff. The majority of the waiters and waitresses are young, several of them UNF students working part time, but deal with the influx of customers with a friendly and efficient manner. Water glasses are rarely empty throughout the meal and at several points the waiter and what I'm assuming was the manager stopped by our table to ask if we were enjoying our meal. It's obvious that customer satisfaction is a top-priority.
Tuscan styled cooking originated from Italian "la cucina povera" or peasant cooking. The cuisine seems to be a blend of Italian and Mediterranean, including soups and pastas, as well as grilled meat and an expanse of fresh fruits and vegetables. To condense it down, I would describe the food as "Italian tropical". Brio's menu offers a wide range of soups, salads, pastas, meats and seafood, but it's still evident the cuisine has true Tuscan origins combined with some modern American culture.
Brio Tuscan Grille will definitely make a fine addition to the St. Johns Towncenter. But as a warning to potential customers, this isn't a quick stop restaurant. Most people wear casual to semi-formal attire, and stay for usually more than an hour. The restaurant is still new and popular so it would smart to make reservations, although a wait wouldn't be terrible in their well-furnished pavilion. To give Brio a good old-fashioned star review, I would say 4.5 out of 5, only because I would consider 5 stars as something that I could mistake for heaven.