It must have taken a lot of brio to sweep clean the ghosts of Pesce. The popular restaurant helmed by chef Mark Holley was for years a fixture at the West Alabama/Kirby nexus until the Landry’s group sold the space in April.
But tomorrow, a shiny new restaurant arrives at that location with great fanfare. Brio Tuscan Grille, 3029 Kirby, is filling out Pesce’s grand space in grand style. The oyster bar plopped in the center of Pesce is gone, providing Brio with a long, dramatic length of restaurant with a new bar area facing Kirby. The décor tilts toward casino chic with Italianate flair, but it’s a welcome setting with generous booths and comfortable chairs. And the bend-over-backward service is almost alarmingly deferential with cheery hellos and fond good-byes (and every type of salutation in between).
The arrival of the River Oaks Brio brings to three the number of Brios in the Houston area (the others are Woodlands and CityCentre). The northern Italian menu is divided among appetizers and flatbreads; starter and main salads; a large offering of pastas; grilled and specialty items.
Starters include Tuscan stuffed pepper, beef carpaccio, fried calamari, tomato Caprese bruschetta and sausage and pepperoni flatbread. Pasta offerings: baked lasagna; rigatoni with grilled chicken, mushrooms and a roasted red pepper sauce; pasta alla vodka; lobster and shrimp ravioli; shrimp or chicken pasta fra diavolo. Grills and specialty items include brick chicken with mashed potatoes; grilled salmon with citrus pesto; grilled shrimp with orzo and asparagus; crab and shrimp cakes with crispy potatoes; grilled swordfish skewers with fresh egg fettuccine; veal marsala and lobster and shrimp fettuccine.
Brio will be open seven days with an extensive lunch and dinner menu as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch. Monday through Friday there’s a $3.95 Tuscan Tasters bar menu from 3 to 7 p.m. And look for $5 Martini Wednesdays with more than a dozen martini specials in both the bar and dining room. For more information, see brioitalian.com or call 713-528-8200.