Bravo! really only deserves lukewarm applause.

Bavo! Cucina Italiana follows in the footsteps of other Italian Chains like Maggiano’s and Carraba’s.  They have  a huge menu, a giant dining room, and a long wait to get in.  In fact I was actually shocked that on a Monday night at 7:00PM that we had to wait 10 minutes for a table.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t care about waiting, I was so surprised with all of the options along Bluemound Road that they were packing the place on a Monday night.  Come to think of it the parking lots at Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, Flemming’s Steakhouse, and Mitchell’s Fish Market were also packed.   A guy (also surprised at the crowd) leaving after a meal with his group of friends summed it up perfectly as I overheard him say that “people out here just don’t cook at home anymore.”  After my meal at Bravo! I am glad that I don’t have to count on the areas restaurants to keep me fed.

The wine list is quite impressive with at least one by-the-glass option of just about every style of wine.  After looking through the menu I had decided to order the lamb chops so I ordered a Zinfandel to enjoy with the rich red meat.  We sat there for quite a while before our waitress emerged again to take our food orders, but she looked pretty busy so its understandable.  As I said, I ordered the Wood Grilled Lamb Chops (a whole rack) with garlic mashed potatoes (which seemed like a deal at $24.99) .  My wife decided upon the Veal Marsala, figuring that it would be the type of dish this restaurant would excel at (she questioned why I would order lamb chops in an Italian Restaurant, I explained that I just had a taste for them).   They offered a addition of one of their salads for $1.99 or $2.99 depending on which one you ordered.  We decided to split the Insalata Mista which featured greens, Gorgonzola, bacon, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette. 

We were brought out some decent bread and dipping oil.  Followed by our salad.  The salad was pretty good (though not as awesome as a similar salad offered by Louise’s down the street).  After we finished the salad we waited for a while for our entrees, then some type of manager approached our table and said “Sometimes our kitchen runs out of items and I apologize but we are out of Lamb Chops.”   Ok, I am fine with them running out of items but I think they should tell you when you order or very shortly after, especially when you are ordering wine to go with that dish. In this case they told us at about the time we should have received our entrees.  I really think what happened was that someone screwed up an order of lamb chops, a customer returned them to the kitchen, and they took mine (the last ones) to replace them.  As you read on you will see how I came to this conclusion.   I was kind of bummed but it was ok as I was eyeing up another item on the menu earlier so I ordered it, Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with a saute of orzo, spinach, kalamata olives, onions, tomatoes, pine nuts and a spicy caper vinaigrette. 

Our meals came out in about 6-8 minutes after the manager approached my table (why he was sent instead of our waitress is still a mystery).   My meal was piping hot while my wife’s was not.  A tell-tale sign that hers had sat under the heat lamp for too long (probably from the time the manager approached our table).  While the sauce was quite tasty, the veal itself was tough as if it hadn’t been pounded out.  Overall it was a disappointing dish and it is pretty pathetic that a restaurant chain with its deep pockets couldn’t just re-do the veal dish when they realized they were out of lamb.  

The grilled shrimp were perfectly grilled and were quite good.  I think there were about 8-10 shrimp and that was plenty.  One thing I do like about Bravo! as opposed to Maggiano’s is that they have reasonable portion sizes and don’t try to overwhelm you with a mountain of food.  I think too many places they figure if they pile on loads and loads of food they won’t realize how mediocre the stuff really is.  Anyhow the shrimp were very good and the spicy caper sauce added a nice kick and some tartness provided by the briny capers.  The orzo and vegetable medly was ok.  It was missing something.  There was really no depth of flavor it was just orzo and vegetables. A bit of the spicy caper sauce was present on some bites but not enough to completely rescue to orzo.  All in all it was a pretty decent dish but something I could easily improve upon at home. 

We thought about dessert but by that time we were so underwhelmed by the meal that we decided to leave. I can’t say I am eager to go back but I wouldn’t totally write the place off either. 

EatWisconsin Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Rating Guide: 0=Absolutely terrible, avoid at all costs, 1=Bad, 2=Mediocre/Average, 3= Admirable, 4=Excellent, 5=Sublime

Bravo! Italian Cucina is located at Brookfield Square Mall at the east side of the mall. Phone: 262-785-0858  http://www.bravoitalian.com/

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3 thoughts on “Bravo! really only deserves lukewarm applause.

  1. The suburbs really need a few quality non-chain restaurants. I haven’t tried Bravo! but I feel like I’ve covered it with Maggiano’s/Olive Garden/Bucca’s/Cheesecake Factory before.

    On a related note, I went to the Pasta Tree in Milwaukee this weekend. It has definitely better food and probably lower prices.

  2. A couple of quibbles with your review:

    You know what? You don’t know why the lamb chops weren’t available. You made an assumption based on no evidence and left it at that. In fairness to the restaurant, use the journalistic rule: If you don’t investigate, don’t report speculation. Perhaps the chef detected something off about the lamb and saved you from getting sick. It’s possible. There are plenty of possible reasons. I read on to the end, but you never gave a clue as to how you reached this conclusion, other than your preconceived notions and anti-chain bias (which I actually agree with you on).

    You also said the orzo and vegetable medley (note the proper spelling of medley) was “okay,” but was “missing something…it was just orzo and vegetables.” Maybe I’m dense, but if something is called “orzo and vegetable medley,” I’m going to assume it has orzo and vegetables mixed together. That’s what it had, so what was missing? Caper sauce? Since that’s not in the name of the dish, should we assume the menu promised a sauce that wasn’t there or was the caper sauce slopped over from your other food and wasn’t supposed to be there? If it wasn’t supposed to be there, it wasn’t missing, was it? Had you said the vegetables were bland, overcooked, or something related to the vegetables, I might consider giving the review some credibility. As it stands, it comes across as you were burned about not getting lambchops and took it out on the review.

  3. My review has nothing to do with not getting the lamb because I was really trying to decide between the lamb and the dish I ordered. I am one of those people who never gets upset when a restaurant is out of something because I see it as an opportunity to try something else.

    As for my conclusions about the lamb, I am just fathoming a guess based on the fact that it took them so long to tell us that they were out of lamb. Typically they will bring the order to the kitchen and return within a couple of minutes to inform a customer if they are out of something, not mere minutes before the entrees arrived. (and after I had ordered a bold red wine to go with them) My other issue was how it was so obvious that my wife’s entree sat under a heat lamp while they made my dish.

    Now on to the orzo…when I said it was missing something I consider that the same as saying it was bland. Sorry you misconstrued that to mean that I wanted something that wasn’t supposed to be there (more on this later). The orzo was underseasoned and the veggies were too. The shrimp were on top of the orzo and the whole thing was drizzled with the Caper sauce that, contrary to what you are saying, is in the name of the dish. Therefore I made the observation that a little more of the caper sauce would have made the dish better because as I said, the bites that did have the caper sauce were much better than the ones that didn’t.

    Anyhow I appreciate you reading, even if I disagree with your opinions about why I wrote what I did.

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