I am always leery of going into national chain restaurants, especially Italian restaurants. I have this fear that it will be a homogenized American version of what an Italian dish should be, and it is usually bland. I was very surprised and happy when we tried Bravo Cucina Italiana. I am not saying that the food is four stars and should be Michelin rated, but it is far superior to a lot of “Italian” eateries that I have been to. The other thing that endeared me is when I asked if something could be replaced with another item, the server did not say “let me go see” and responded with a “yes.” For an example, I do not tolerate Romano cheese, for some reason I always smell and taste soap (I know that it sounds silly, but it is a peccadillo of mine, and I just refrain from that cheese).
We do not make it a habit of constantly dining at one particular restaurant, but we have dined at this establishment a few times, and if necessary I know that it would be a safe choice when we are out of town and this may be one of the existing choices, though I do prefer trying local talent when it is possible. Be that as it may, there are a few dishes that we know we enjoy. They have a Sangiovese Braised Beef Ravioli that is very tasty. Another dish that we enjoy is a Shrimp Far Diavolo Campanelle which is done in a “Palomino” style tomato cream sauce, the Campanelle refers to the special pasta that is used in the dish.
I am also impressed with their wine list. A couple of times we have ordered a Duckhorn Vineyards wine like the Paraduxx 2006. I think that it is a play on words for the winery because the common thinking was that a wine that is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while all of these varietals grow very well in the Napa Valley it is a paradox of a blend. Since they are Duckhorn, it is Paraduxx and the labels usually show a different pair of ducks each year, as in 2006 they showed Cinnamon Teal Ducks. I find that this wine works very well with robust foods, especially with a tomato sauce basis. I feel that a good Zinfandel can work as well as a Sangiovese based wine. The funny thing is that I am not a major fan of Zinfandel, but when it is blended I find it very appealing.