Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bravo and Andy's Custard

Location: 1701 Maple Avenue, Evanston
Cost: About $20 per person

On my last switch weekend between rotations, I made plans to hang out with Ricky, Josh, and Lonnie. They wanted to go see The Hunger Games. Lonnie had some gift card that was only redeemable at the Old Orchard movie theater, so we took a brief trip up north. Afterwards we drove into Evanston to get some Italian food at Bravo.

Logistics
I didn't realized that there were multiple Bravo locations throughout the country (2 in Illinois), but this place looks exactly like Olive Garden. There are plenty of columns and fake vines to put up an old style italian appearance. I think they get pretty busy, but we only waited 10 minutes or so on the weekend. There's plenty of street parking, but you should remember to bring your quarters since Evanston has the old style meters.

Our waitress was quick with everything except for our bread. She kept saying they were baking more, but since we were right near the kitchen we could see tons of it coming out without making it to our table. Also, I'm pretty sure she thought Ricky and I were double dating with Josh and Lonnie by some of her goofier looks. The entrees all run in the mid teens, and the portions are large.

The Food
We split the house and caesar salads to start things off. The house has some crispy bacon and pasta that makes me think of the one at Portillo's, only it's not as good. The Caesar is pretty standard with a thick, creamy dressing.

The House Salad

 The Caesar Salad

Entree wise, Lonnie got the Pasta Bravo, Ricky got the Beef Gnocchi, Josh got the Bay Scallop and Shrimp Pasta, and I got the Chicken Parmesan. The pasta bravo had a creamy tomato sauce coating rigatoni. It was hot and rich with plenty of mushrooms and large chicken chunks. The beef gnocchi was my favorite dish. The gnocchi were a bit dense, but the short rib was savory enough to carry things. Josh's pasta had a creamy tomato sauce like Lonnie's, but I'd give this one the edge with the seafood being prepared more properly than the chicken. My dish was a bit sub par. The cheese solidified significantly by the time I got it. The chicken was evenly breaded but also overcooked.

The Bay Scallops and Shrimp Pasta

The Pasta Bravo

The Beef Gnocchi

 The Chicken Parmesan

It was a nice night out, and we decided to walk around Evanston and find dessert rather than stay at the restaurant. We ended up at Andy's Frozen Custard. It's a very simple operation with a minimal selection of flavors but a variety of preparations. I went straight up cone while the other guys got Jack Hammers or whatever they call their version of blizzards. I thought everything was well done (not like Ollie's or anything), but Lonnie insisted we go to Red Mango so that she could get some frozen yogurt.




Overall
Grand Lux Cafe is to Cheesecake Factory as Bravo is to Olive Garden. The menu's are strikingly similar as is the ambiance. I didn't particularly care for the main courses, but just like Olive Garden, the salad and bread sticks were a strong suit. With all the great places to check out in downtown Evanston, I wouldn't rush back to this one. I'm giving them 2 out of 5 Pearls.


Bravo Cucina Italiana on Urbanspoon Andy's Frozen Custard on Urbanspoon

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