10 Questions about BRIO Tuscan Grille with Cindi Taylor
1. Tell us about BRIO Tuscan Grille.
BRIO (meaning “lively” or “full of life”) is an upscale, affordable restaurant serving authentic, northern Italian cuisine. It brings the pleasure of the Tuscan country villa to the American city. The subtitle, “Tuscan Grille,” is descriptive of the menu that features grilled and oven-roasted steaks, chops, seafood, made-to-order pastas, flatbreads and entrée salads, similar to what one would find in an authentic ristorante in Tuscany. BRIO also offers an ample dessert menu, and full wine and cocktail list. BRIO’s motto is fashioned after the Tuscan philosophy of “to eat well, is to live well.”
BRIO at St. Johns Town Center opened on Aug. 20, 2012, and is located at 4910 Big Island Dr., Jacksonville, FL 32246. The 11,254-square-foot restaurant has indoor seating for 160 guests and al fresco dining for 88 on its Italian-style terrace featuring an outdoor fireplace. BRIO also offers a private dining area seating up to 48 guests.
2. What makes BRIO special?
BRIO’s philosophy is “to eat well, is to live well” which is why we only use the finest and freshest ingredients. BRIO brings the pleasure of the Tuscan country villa to the American city.
I’m happy to align myself with a company that shares my passion and conviction to provide an exceptional dining experience for our guests, while also providing an exceptional work environment for our team.
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.
BRIO is all-appealing: we have consummate attention to details, and a wide array of offerings for any taste. We also offer a special children’s menu, family-style pans-to-go for off-site catered special events and business occasions, and online ordering. BRIO is perfect for any occasion including anniversaries, date nights, brunch, special events and much more.
All BRIO restaurants nationwide place great emphasis on supporting the local community and charities with fundraisers, supporting events, etc.
3. What are your top 3 recommendations for someone new to the BRIO?
1. Beef Medallions with Shrimp Scampi: Three 2 oz. tournedos with marinated shrimp, served over orzo with sauteed zucchini, asparagus, grape tomatoes and fresh thyme. Topped with citrus garlic sauce and pesto bread crumbs.
2. Pasta BRIO: Rigatoni, grilled chicken, seared mushrooms and roasted red pepper sauce.
3. Chicken Limone: Traditional Piccata style with white wine, lemon and capers. Served with roasted vegetables and herb spaghettini.
4. What can you recommend to someone looking for something a little different?
Lobster & Shrimp Fettuccine: Shrimp and lobster tossed with mushrooms, green onions and a spicy lobster butter sauce.
5. What's the most popular dish?
Our most popular item is Pasta All Vodka: Delicate Ricotta filled handmade pasta, with crispy pancetta, garlic, basil and a spicy tomato Parmesan cream sauce.
6. What's your favorite dish?
My favorite item is the Roasted Lamb Chops: Full rack, perfectly seasoned and grilled to order New Zealand lamb chops, with red wine veal sauce, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
7. Where do you get your recipes?
BRIO’s Corporate Chef Phil Yandolino is the founding chef of BRAVO | BRIO Restaurant Group. He and his team of chefs formulate the recipes. They are very in tune with using only finest and freshest ingredients to create delicious cuisine.
8. Can you tell us a little about your background?
I have nearly 25 years of restaurant management experience. I’ve been a part of the BRIO team since December 2011.
I’m originally from Jacksonville. I spent many years as Operating Partner/General Manager with P.F. Chang’s China Bistro in various locations around the U.S. I also served as Proprietor/Managing Partner with Outback Steakhouse in Jacksonville for several years.
In addition, I have worked in management at J. Gilbert’s Wood Fired Steaks and Chili’s Bar and Grill.
I took various liberal arts and business courses at Florida Community College in Jacksonville. I currently reside in Jacksonville. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, reading, biking, and going to football and basketball games.
9. What made you want to run your own restaurant?
I love the restaurant and hospitality industry because there is so much autonomy to make a person’s day, and make a special event “extra special.” I like putting a smile on people’s faces. I’m very excited to introduce BRIO to my hometown of Jacksonville, and to be active in the community. BRIO places great importance on supporting the local community, and I look forward to working with many great causes.
10. Can you share 1-3 things about you, your staff or your restaurant that most people may not know?
I am originally from Jacksonville.
BRIO created more than 120 jobs in Jacksonville by opening here.
BRIO at St. Johns Town Center is the ninth BRIO location in Florida.
11. Can you tell us about your Executive Chef? What is his background?
John Szekeres, Executive Chef, joined the BRAVO|BRIO Restaurant Group (BBRG) team in 2004. Since then, he has worked with the company as both Executive Chef and Sous Chef. Most recently he performed training at BRIO Partridge Creek Fashion Park in Detroit, Mich.; prior to that, he spent six years at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana in Lansing, Mich.
Prior to joining BBRG, John served as Sous Chef at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. He also served in the U.S. Navy from 1994-’98. He is a CIA graduate.
John resides in St. Johns, Fla. with his wife and their three children. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, riding his Harley, and working out to stay in good health and great shape.
12. Do you offer gluten-free options?
Yes. All of BRIO’s cuisine is made with only the finest and freshest quality ingredients.
BRIO offers a gluten-friendly menu including BRIO Chopped Salad, Caesar Salad, Salmon Griglia Salad, Pasta Pomodoro, Pasta BRIO, Pasta Primavera, Chicken Griglia, Filetto Di Manzo Toscano, and Salmon Griglia.
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
I’m very excited to introduce BRIO to my hometown of Jacksonville, to reconnect with the city and be a part of its growth. At BRIO, we have the capability to make a person’s day with our delicious food, wonderful service and relaxing atmosphere.