BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, a “polished casual” restaurant offering classic Italian food, offered a sneak peek last night of their newest location at The Mall at Fairfield Commons, which officially opens this Thursday, Jan 28th. Located on the east side of the mall, in the space that was formerly one of the two Elder Beerman stores, now a newly created restaurant row, with the recently opened Chuy’s, and the soon to open BJ’s Brewhouse. I was welcomed at the door by a bevy of smiling hostesses, and quickly escorted to my table. The brand new building is decorated to give you the feeling of an Italian bistro, elegant with white table cloths, but yet not stuffy. The high ceilings and large columns dividing the dining room into three sections, give the restaurant a very open and large feeling. The new Beavercreek eatery has seats for about a 120, with a small private dining room that can accommodate 20 guests, according to Lisa Marie, one of the managers who’s transferred from the Dayton Mall Bravo, where she’s worked for 12 years. Come spring you’ll also be able to enjoy patio seating.
My meal started with manager Samantha delivering an appetizer to the table. She shared that it was her favorite and it quickly became one of my new favorites, too. Arancini Fritters are delicious little balls of cheesy risotto served with a spicy davolo sauce and a more mild pomodoro sauce. Here’s some helpful info, you won’t find these on the dinner menu, but they are on the bar menu, but you can indeed order these at your table and at $3.95 they are a MUST ORDER! Looking forward to going back and sitting at the beautiful bar, which runs across the front of the restaurant with a brilliant lighted bottle display, lots of bar stools and some comfy booths. Be sure and take advantage of happy hour with a small plates menu starting at $3.95.
After appetizers, the Bravo! Chopped Salad with cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, olives, Feta, red wine vinaigrette is a crisp,fresh option. The Caesar is a classic and never disappoints. If you’re a Lobster Bisque fan, they have one of the best! And the bread- that rosemary foccacia served fresh from the oven with a basil, thyme, and rosemary olive oil dipping sauce, I can actually make that a meal!
The menu is full of choices, with pizzas, pasta, selections from the grill like the Filmet Mignon Toscano, pork chops or jumbo shrimp and chef specialties like Veal or Eggplant Parmesan, Crab and Shrimp Cakes, and Chicken Scaoppini. There’s even a selection of light entrees and gluten free pasta options. I choose the Pasta Fra Diavolo with shrimp tossed in a mildly spicy tomato cream sauce with campanelle pasta. The portions at Bravo are always generous and there were about a dozen good sized shrimp in my dish. It you like some heat with your pasta, you can ask your server to have the kitchen spice this one up. Speaking of kitchens, it’s an open kitchen in the back of the restaurant where you can actually see and hear the crew working on your meal. It’s authentic without being obtrusive.
Another thing I’ve learned is if you’re getting full, let them pack part of your dinner to go so you can order dessert. My favorite is the decadent chocolate cake layered with white and milk chocolate mousse, iced with fudge ganache frosting. Of course there’s also the traditional Italian Tiramisu of lady fingers soaked in coffee liqueur, layered with creamy Mascarpone filling and finished with cocoa powder or a New York style cheesecake with a shortbread cookie crust, dusted with sugar and caramelized to order served with vanilla bean anglaise. Or share the dessert trio of vanilla bean crème brulee, cannoli crumble and warm chocolate peanut butter brownie.
And while the staff is all brand new, the 5 five weeks of training managed by a team of 13 trainers in town from other units makes for service that was on point, without being obtrusive. My iced tea was replaced with a fresh glass several times, always before my glass was empty, a touch I truly appreciate. Teamwork was spot on with nearby servers clearing glasses, and dishes as they were emptied. Samantha Woods, the service manager who moved from a North Carolina to open this Bravo, shared that the company has grown a lot since she’s been working with them for five years, and explained that the while the Bravo and Brio concepts are similar, Brio features a more tuscan grilled menu as opposed to the more pasta friendly Bravo menu. The company also has a third concept, Bon Vie Bistro, that’s only at Easton in Columbus, so far.
Speaking of growing, right after opening the Beavercreek store, Grand Rapids, Michigan gets their first Bravo next week. Chief Training Officer Diane McLaughlin shared that “we were impressed when it came to staffing, this location had great applicants and we had over half the positions filled in the first couple of weeks. I can’t say the same about the Michigan store. Of course it may have something to do with the fact we already have established a good reputation in the market.” And if my visit last night was any indication, Bravo has another hit on their hands with the Beavercreek location.
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana (937) 431-5460
2727 Fairfield Commons
Sun -Thu: 11am -10pm
Fri & Sat: 11am -11pm
BRAVO! Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday until 3pm.