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Brio Tuscan Grille


11401 N.W. 12th Street
Sweetwater, FL 33172
305- 629-8991


I have always been a fan of Brio Tuscan Grille and I have been to both Central Florida locations. Brio is really good at serving up consistent and authentic Italian food in what the restaurant deems as a “polished casual” atmosphere. Recently on one of my many visits to Miami, which is my second home, by the way, I was invited to check out the newest Florida location of Brio Tuscan Grille at the Dolphin Mall, and of course I couldn't resist.

In case you have not been to a Brio yet or are unfamiliar with the brand, Brio is part of Columbus based BRAVO|BRIO Restaurant Group (BBRG). Founded in 1992, BBRG currently operates more than 100 restaurants including Bravo Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille, and Bon Vie Bistro.

Brio Tuscan Grille serves up authentic northern Italian cuisine with a menu that features oven roasted steaks, chops, seafood, made-to-order pastas, flatbreads and entree salads, similar to what one would find in a ristorante in Tuscany. Brio also offers an ample dessert menu, and a full wine and cocktail list. Brio’s philosophy is “to eat well, is to live well”, and they strive to bring the pleasure of the Tuscan country villa to the American city.

On Sept. 17, Brio Tuscan Grille, opened a location at the newly expanded wing of Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida. The restaurant is the 14th location in Florida, and provides a “taste of Tuscany” to Miami-Dade’s largest retail shopping center.


The beautiful new 7,500 square-foot Miami restaurant offers indoor seating for 226 guests, and al fresco dining for up to 89 on two Italian-style terraces. A private dining area accommodates groups for up to 40 guests.

BRIO’s villa-like interior features details such as antique hardwood cypress flooring, arched colonnades, hand-crafted Italian mosaics, antique doors, hand crafted walls covered in an antique Venetian plaster, Arabescato marble-imported from Italy, and sizable wrought-iron chandeliers.

I love a good calamari, but it’s hard to find somewhere that does it right. The Calamari Fritto Misto at Brio was Perfetto, as in Perfect. The calamari was a crispy golden brown and served with peperoncini, creamy aioli, and a nice pomodoro sauce for dipping.

Bruschetta Quattro is perfect for sharing,or as a whole meal itself. You really can’t go wrong with a sampling of four housemade bruschettas. You get a Tomato Caprese Bruschetta, Sliced Steak Bruschetta, Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Bruschetta and a Chicken Florentine Bruschetta. All of them were very delicious and quite tasty.

The Pasta Fra Diavolo is composed of campanelle pasta, spicy tomato cream sauce, green onions and your choice of chicken or shrimp. The flavors in this pasta dish were intense and flavorful with the perfect amount of spice for the diavolo or devil in you that likes it hot!

My dish of Chicken Milanese featured two generous portions of crispy Romano chicken, herb pasta and fresh Mozzarella in a housemade Pomodoro sauce. The Chicken Milanese is a rather simple and classic dish, but it is filled with exceptional flavor as the chicken cutlets are battered and fried to perfection.

Brio means “lively” or “full of life” and that is certainly what you will find at any Brio Tuscan Grille location. As I said earlier, I really enjoy the Central Florida locations and Brio has proven to be very consistent across the board at every location I have been to. Of course it goes without saying, that in many parts of Miami and the surrounding areas, they have a reputation for being glitzy, glamorous, playful, and very stylish. The Dolphin Mall location certainly lives up to that billing, as it is everything you would expect from Brio, with a touch of Miami spice.

Brio at Dolphin Mall is open seven days a week Sunday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight.


They also feature a weekend Brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Reservations and call-ahead seating will be accepted and walk-ins welcomed. For reservations, please call (305) 629-8991

Brio Tuscan Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Bento Cafe UCF

12250 Strategy Blvd #443
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 658-8088

I have always been a fan of Bento Cafe, especially the Downtown Orlando location.

Bento primarily serves up what is best described as Pan-Asian cuisine, with a wide array of different foods from all over Asia. The downtown location is great if you happen to work or live near there, as it has become a staple in that area for quick and fresh Asian cuisine at a reasonable price. I however live on the east side of Orlando, and unless I ask my wife to bring me something home, it’s a bit out of the way. That is why I am very happy to share with you my most recent review of the all new Bento Cafe UCF. Yes you heard right...Bento has a brand new location in the Plaza at University, and the food is just as awesome as it is at any other location.

The Bento Cafe brand, If you are not familiar with them, is a small chain of seven restaurants with more on the way, that offers a creative mixture of Asian inspired dishes from wok stir-fry to fire-grilled items to sushi using the finest Asian spices and the freshest ingredients all at great prices.

The concept at Bento is to bring unique and authentic Asian food in a fast and efficient manner. Everything on the menu is cooked to order and prepared in minutes and served up in an atmosphere that is fun, friendly and stylish. The word “Bento” means boxed-meal in Japanese, and they have a wide selection of traditional boxed meals, but the menu includes a wide variety of sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri and chirashi bowls as well as soups, udon noodles, rice bowls and noodle bowls. They also offer Boba Tea, a popular Asian beverage that is consisted of milk tea and chewy tapioca pearls.



Every store is designed differently which makes visiting each Bento Cafe an experience. Each store will be either dominated by the warm red dragon colors or the cool blue dragon colors. Each Bento has a sushi station, but the UCF location has seats at the sushi bar, so you can watch the chefs prepare your rolls live and in person.

 
Speaking of sushi, the Jade roll with marinated spicy tuna, eel, avocado, krab delite, masago, scallions and eel sauce tasted just as good as it looked.

For my entree, I chose the the Sesame Wok Stir Fry bowl. This dish comes with your choice of chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu and red bell peppers, snow peas, onions, baby corn in a sesame soy sauce. I really enjoyed the flavors, and the portion was more than I could eat.

Now, I really did enjoy my entree selection, but it would be dishonest of me not to tell you that I was really jealous of my wife’s Bento Box. She opted for the Sriracha Garlic Chicken in a bento box. You can get chicken, shrimp or tofu grilled or fried with red bell peppers and onions with a sweet and spicy Sriracha sauce for dipping. Bento boxes come with your choice of steamed rice or lo mein, ginger salad, and string beans and a dessert. Not only was this delicious and lots of food, it only costs $8.95, and that's a bargain.

The UCF Bento Cafe is the third one to open in the Orlando area, and I can now say I have been to all three, and all three locations have been very consistent in quality and service. Sometimes chains can vary in quality and the overall experience you may have there, and I am impressed with the consistency of Bento Cafe.

If you are looking for some really good Asian food with variety and great flavors in a fast casual environment, check out Bento if you have not done so already. Whats even better is the fact that you can dine there without putting a hurt on your wallet and without sacrificing quality over price.

Bento Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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903 Mills Market Cafe

903 S. Mills Ave.
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 898-4392

Sometimes, as a food blogger, I’d like to think that I know just about everywhere there is to eat in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Sometimes though, places that are in my own backyard, or just around the corner from me go unnoticed. Such is the case with 903 Mills Market. If my sister had not mentioned it to me, I would have kept on passing this lovely gem up.

I am very thankful that I do in fact know all about 903 Mills Market now, because aside of being a really quaint neighborhood eatery, this place has some seriously good eats.

Located at the intersection of Gore and Mills, in Dulaney Park just south of downtown, 903 Mills Market really is in a neighborhood. If you don't look twice you may unwillingly pass this fine establishment. It's a favorite of all of the locals, and those in the know with a good craft beer selection in bottles or draught, wines, mimosas on the weekends and of course lots of wonderful food.

You can get everything from breakfast to dinner here with a wide selection of salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches and flatbreads. Some of the popular menu items are the “Grateful Bread” that is described as “Thanksgiving dinner in your hand”, with roasted turkey, bleu cheese stuffing, red onions & cranberry aioli on fresh multigrain wheat. Another favorite is “Mike’s Open-Faced Meatloaf” with homemade meatloaf on a pressed Cuban roll with mayo then covered with cole slaw. 


We opted for the Hummus Platter with homemade roasted garlic hummus served with toasted pita points for a starter, and it was a really good and flavorful hummus.

I chose the Full Monte Cristo for my sandwich, and it was an amazing treat. Hot ham and turkey with Swiss and white American cheese with cranberry mayo is sandwiched on french toast sprinkled with powdered sugar.

My wife chose the Falafel Wrap with Falafel, baby spinach, onion, hummus and tzatztki in a wheat wrap. This was a very tasty wrap.

My sister chose the 903 BLT with a side of the soup of the day, which was a cheesy potato soup. The 903 BLT is classic with a twist, in that it has crispy salami.

All of the food was wonderful as well as the view and setting of this slightly hidden gem in Orlando. At 903 Mills they strive to be more than just a restaurant...as the website says “We’re your lazy Sunday afternoon, your last minute breakfast when you're late for work, your comfort food. We’re the home cooked meal when the oven is on the fritz, or the buffet at your dinner party. We are your neighbors. Seriously, most of us live right around the corner”.


903 Mills Market Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Cocina 214

151 E. Welbourne Ave, 
Winter Park, FL 32789
407-790-7997


Whenever I am thinking about dining out in beautiful Downtown Winter Park, often times Mexican food does not cross my mind. 

There are lots of dining options in that area from upscale to casual, but for some reason I often overlook Cocina 214. I am a big fan of authentic Mexican food and the Americanized Tex-Mex food as well, so I was delighted to attend a new menu preview event for Cocina 214.

What exactly is Cocina 214 you may ask? Cocina is Spanish for Kitchen, and the 214 part comes from the Dallas area code, because the owners, who are from Texas, missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican foods they grew up on. The menu is full of contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes that combine bold flavors with the freshest local ingredients. Items like Queso Fundido and Guacamole at Cocina 214 may be your average Tex-Mex standard fare, but you will be hard pressed to find Fried Avocado Bites at any other Mexican restaurant in Central Florida.

The same goes with the rest of the menu here too. Items like Snapper Frito Tacos, Truffle and Mushroom Quesadillas, Cauli Frito Tacos and Corn Crusted Mahi are sure to impress the adventurous palate. If you want more traditional, Cocina has that too, with Chicken Tamales, Brisket Quesadilla and an assortment of Tacos and Fajitas.



Fried Avocado Bites are lightly breaded hass avocados fried and served with chipotle cream dipping sauce, and are very delicious. 

The Mango Ceviche features snapper, serrano peppers, red onion, red bell pepper, citrus and mango.

For something a little lighter, Isidro’s Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce, cotija cheese, fried onions strings, grape tomatoes, homemade croutons and Caesar dressing.

The Mexican Corn is a tasty Aperitivo, or appetizer with grilled corn, cayenne pepper, lime, cotija cheese and queso fresco.

The Dragon Fruit Margarita is sweet and flavorful, and is only available for a limited time. The margarita menu at Cocina 214 features everything from house made specialties to Skinny Ritas and even a “Pop Rocks Rita.”

Enchiladas are served Mexican-style with romaine lettuce, queso fresco, onions, sour cream, grape tomatoes & veggie rice. You can add protein to them such as chicken or beef and you have an option of sauces as well.

Snapper Frito Tacos are traditional Mexican street tacos with lightly fried wild snapper topped with coastal slaw, pico de gallo and a chipotle cream sauce.

For an awesome vegetarian option, the Cauli Frito tacos are lightly fried cauliflower, coastal slaw, red bell peppers and chipotle cream sauce. These tacos were crispy and tasty and had a great taste.

Another item not readily found at most Mexican restaurants, the Snapper Veracruz with wild snapper, tomato, olive, caper, herb topping and veggie rice was quite delightful.

For the burger lover, Maria’s Gourmet Burger is sure to hit the spot. This burger features grilled pineapple on an Angus beef burger, Olde Hearth Bread poppy seed bun, Monterrey jack cheese and is served with grilled Mexican corn.

You can never go wrong with Churros for a sweet ending. The Churros at Cocina 214 come with a dulce de leche dipping sauce and are fantastic.

If you’re looking to dine out in the charming Winter Park Historic District, or want an authentic Tex-Mex dinner, consider Cocina 214 and put it on your radar. This restaurant is perfect for every occasion and you and your guests will be sure to enjoy.

The bar features a happy hour on Monday to Thursday from 4:30pm to 6:30pm with $5 214 Rocks & Frozen margaritas, $3 Draft Beers and $5 Wells

Brunch is served Saturday & Sundays from 11:00am to 3:00pm with $3 Brunch Mimosas


Cocina 214 Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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