Just over a month ago I was in Italy. I was overdosing on food and swearing that I would never eat Italian in America again.
So much for that resolution!
I seldom get to the far west side of Nashville, but I was meeting someone in Fairview…and I was starving! So Bria Bistro caught my eye.
Just off Highway 100 right before you get to Chaffin’s Dinner theater it is tucked rather non-descriptly in a small shopping center.
The decor inside is dark wood, faux finishes and overpriced local paintings. It trends a bit too much toward the 80s version of Italian for my taste.
The bartender had ESPN blasting when I came in and the restaurant was not very crowded as I had gotten there early on a Monday evening.
The server greeted me courteously and gave a quick description of the special. I heard “Ravioli…blah, blah, blah…calamari” and he took my drink order and gave me a minute to review the menu.
There were the classics on the menu including flatbreads ($13-$16), pastas ($13-$16) and entrees ($16-$27). Nothing on the menu really jumped out and begged me to order it.
Obviously my blood sugar was low because nothing on the menu stuck with me and when the waiter came back I asked him to tell me about the special Pasta de Notte again. He tore off the description and I agreed that it was an excellent suggestion. He gently steered me towards choosing an additional meat to the dish as the calamari was a fairly small portion and I finally settled on adding salmon to the dish.
He dropped off some bread and poured out some olive oil and seasonings on a plate for dipping. The bread was disappointing. Obviously right off the Sysco truck and with not much to recommend it. White, flat and flavorless. Bread is life in Italy and this would not have stood that test. The dipping spices were over done. My hopes for a decent meal were declining rapidly.
I only had to wait a very short time before my entree arrived at my table.
My attitude improved a bit. When I ordered salmon with this dish I was mentally picturing some pieces of fish scattered in the sauce. Instead I got a very sizable salmon filet that was well seasoned and nicely cooked.
The ravioli were average. Cooked well to just al dente but the ricotta filling was bland and a bit of a throw away.
The sauce, however, was transformational. The waiter described it as a “sherry butter sauce” and it was well executed and full of flavor. It teemed with a wide range of vegetables including onions, yellow squash, zucchini, spinach and haricot verts as well as mushrooms. The vegetables were cooked lightly and still had good texture to them and added greatly to the dish.
It is a good thing that the waiter steered me to some additional protein because I think there were exactly 4 pieces of calamari in the sauce.
So for me there were some high spots and some low spots. I did not get a chance to review the range of the menu but nothing else caught my attention.
The special was $20 but the charge for the salmon was an additional $8. I do not think that the meal merited a $28 price tag. If it had not been for the saving grace of the sauce, I would have labeled the whole meal as being very disappointing.
As it is, I am really torn. I will not go out of my way to go back across town to go to Bria, but I am curious to see what the chef can do if everything goes right here.
For now Bria Bistro goes into the maybe column. Perhaps some other people will be able to share a better experience than mine.
Bria Bistro Italiano
8128 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221