El Brio Tuscan Grille: Italian American Comfort Food For Everyone
If there is one place you are looking to take your family to eat delicious Italian comfort food, El Brio Tuscan Grille is the place to go. You feel at home from the moment you step inside, with large booths, warm lighting, friendly staff, and irresistible aroma. This casual family chain restaurant has incredible service (we couldn’t stop laughing and chatting with our wonderful waiter) and delicious food. The portions are definitely enough to feed a big crowd, making it a great place to order lots of dishes to share with your friends.
They just launched their new Flavorful Features Menu that offers a taste of the mediterranean for a great deal.
Burrata & Prosciutto Bruschetta: Red peppers, mayonnaise, sea salt, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and parsley ($11.95)
Chicken Saltimbocca Risotto: Provolone, crispy pancetta, fried sage, and butternut squash risotto ($16.95)
Sea Scallops & Ratatouille Risotto: Seared sea scallops served over risotto with roasted eggplant, red peppers, zucchini, tomato compote, basil and Reggiano ($21.95)
Crab Stuffed Shrimp & Broiled Maine Lobster Tail: Orzo, farro, zucchini, red peppers, asparagus, and lemon butter sauce ($25.95)
Butterscotch Budino: Italian for “pudding,” this dish features Marcona almonds, caramel, and vanilla whipped cream ($3.95)
We started our night off with the three bruschetta sampler, which included the new burrata and prosciutto bruschetta, which was our personal favorite. The creamy burrata mellowed out the sharp flavor of the parma ham and the fresh tomato cut right through the richness, balancing out perfectly. The sampler also came with a juicy steak bruschetta topped with smoky roasted peppers and paired with a pungent gorgonzola that was able to stand up to the robust meat. If you want something cheesy and a little bit heavier, this one is for you! The third bruschetta was a classic caprese style bruschetta with a melted mozzarella slice, fragrant basil, and a sweet balsamic reduction drizzled overtop. Even just the appetizers gave us a whole explosion of various flavors and textures. We couldn’t wait to try what else was in store.
We decided to get a couple small plates: the Tuscan cauliflower and the white bean dip. The Tuscan cauliflower was combined with capers and baked with a breadcrumb crust; this dish truly reminded us of the mediterranean. The saltiness and the buttery breadcrumb topping was so addicting we couldn’t stop eating it. The creamy white bean dip came with a mound of artichokes and fresh arugula. It also had some bread to dip into it. The parmesan crusted bread was a little bit too oily for our palates and we felt it overpowered the dish, so we preferred to just eat it by the spoonful. So delicious! They definitely made sure not to skimp on the veggies. The chopped olives and fruity olive oil lent an almost sweet and cinnamon-y flavor, adding some warmth to thee delicious cold appetizer.
Next came our main dish: sea scallop and ratatouille risotto. This creamy risotto isn’t your traditional Italian risotto with al dente arborio rice and mounds of parmesan but something more reminiscent of American comfort food, that nostalgic flavor that seems to be El Brio’s signature. The crispy pancetta worked so well with the fried sage and butternut squash. The tomato added a freshness to the dish, adding a flavor similar to Spanish paella. The scallops were plump, tender, and perfectly cooked. It transported me back to a summer’s day at the sea.
Although we were completely stuffed, we couldn’t leave without trying out their dessert. We had to try out their new menu’s caramel budino (Italian pudding) but we didn’t stop there! We also got the caramel mascarpone cheese cake and creme brûlée along with the budino in a dessert trio that they offer at the restaurant. I highly recommend ordering the trio. The mascarpone cheese cake had a creme anglaise poured over it. The cheesecake had crust both on the bottom and the top, which we all know is the best part! The creme brûlée had a lovely vanilla aroma and came with a fresh strawberry on top. I felt like a kid on Christmas when I broke through the caramelized candy crust to get to the silky custard. This dessert was extremely sweet (even with one bit we started feeling the sugar rush) so you definitely have to have a sweet tooth for this one. The last dessert, and the best dessert, was the caramel budino, the dessert on their new menu. Similar flavor profile as the other two but a completely different experience. The crunchy, nutty, toasty almonds on top were addicting and paired so well with the whipped cream, which balanced the sweetness of the pudding. You got creamy, crunchy, and silky all in one bite. All were very sweet, but very good.
Although I didn’t grow up in America, I feel as if this meal had transported me to, what I imagine, is the classic, perfect, homey “American dream” childhood. You can taste the care and love they put into making and plating their dishes and in the way they cater to the customers.
If you are in Cherry Hill, NJ, and looking for a casual, budget-friendly, family-friendly, satisfying meal, and a great dining experience, this place is definitely worth stopping by!
Location: Market Place at Garden State Park, 901 Haddonfield Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Written by: Jennifer Higa
Photos by: Juliana Sandford