Brio Tuscan Grille

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Many moons ago, if parents wanted to dine out, they had two options: a grown-up restaurant + a babysitter, or a kid restaurant + a couple of Excedrin. Not any more! Nowadays families are welcome at most restaurants (even the ones with real tablecloths). With that in mind, we're unveiling a new kind of restaurant review: the parent-and-kid team of critics. This month, Columbus Parent editor Jane Hawes and her 11-year-old son Colin put their palates to the test at Brio Tuscan Grille.

The Mom Says

"We don't want to get dressed up," my balky husband informed me (on behalf of my son) as we headed to Brio Tuscan Grille at Polaris. Thankfully there was no need to worry about my underdressed men. The European bistro-like decor was both lovely and lively, suitable for a wide range of attire.

One other thing we got right - a reservation. By 6:45 p.m. on a busy Friday, wait time for walk-ups was 50 minutes.

Our server, Kristen, could not have been friendlier or more patient with my son. And I noticed many other families there, some with infants for whom sturdy car-seat carrier frames were provided (an amenity I never encountered as an infant mom and, yes, I am a little jealous).

Crayons were also provided, and the white paper covering the tablecloth was a welcome canvas for idle hands.

As for the food, I could have made a meal out of the bread basket, appetizers and dessert. For starters, my husband and I helped our son with his calamari and we split the Bruschetta Quattro ($14; a platter with four types of tasty bruschetta, and I loved the excellent, aged balsamic vinegar).

For the dessert, $2.45 might seem a bit steep for a small teacup full of tiramisu, but it sure was a perfect topper to the meal.

Between those two courses, I went for the Grilled Citrus Chicken with Orzo ($17). Kristen advised me the saucing was very lemony. She was right, but I liked it.

My husband had Tournedos di Manzo ($25.50), a pair of tender beef filets topped with a well-balanced hollandaise (and Mr. Casual Attire got his asparagus replaced with garlic mashed potatoes because he's also Mr. Doesn't Eat Much Green Stuff).

Though a little pricier than our usual family dinner out, it was enjoyable and well worth the money for the attentive service, relaxing atmosphere and delicious food.

Oh, and even though the "Famiglia" unisex bathroom didn't have a diaper-changing station, it was an otherwise well-appointed oasis.

-- Jane Hawes

The Kid Says:

I liked it. Fancy is all I can describe it as.

Our waitress was really nice, asking me if I wanted more lemonade all the time.

I ordered calamari ($10.75) for my appetizer. Most of the boys in my class like calamari, but all the girls have never had it and think it's gross. Calamari is fried squid tentacles with a breaded outer layer. I liked it with the white sauce, aioli (a kind of garlicky mayonnaise), but not with the red sauce (marinara).

For dinner, I got a 10-inch pizza, half cheese and half sausage ($4.50 off the kids' menu). I liked that they put parmesan cheese under all the other melted cheese - it tasted good that way.

For dessert, I got a caramel creme brulee ($2.45). I didn't know how they got the melted sugar on top until my mom told me they do it with a blowtorch, which is cool.

My mom made me go to the bathroom so I could report on it. They had sketch drawings on the wall, nice music playing and really fine tiling. And it was really clean. Probably a girl would like it better than a guy would.

I would definitely go back again but I'd order less food because I was so full by the time I got to the pizza I could only eat two pieces.

-- Colin Hawes