Bravoo is popular but needs to refine the details. 

Fine, Not Fabulous

I am always up for trying something new, and I was really looking forward to being a first-timer at Bravoo, an Italian restaurant stashed away in the back of Midlothian Green Shopping Center. I'd checked out the menu online and everything looked delicious — lots of mozzarella, sauces of all flavors, fresh pasta and plenty of garlic, all prepared in the Northern Italian tradition.

So to ensure that we'd have a table waiting for us, I made a reservation for four on Saturday night at 7. I'm glad I did because as we waited for our table to be ready I saw two people get turned away due to lack of space. I looked around the place — a relatively informal, carpeted space with spool-back wooden chairs, booths lining the walls, chandeliers and sconces here and there, and pleasant enough artwork — and I wondered what would keep a restaurant in such an inconspicuous location so busy.

Our waitress showed up promptly and took our orders for drinks and dinner. Bottomless Pit and I each ordered a glass of merlot ($3.75), reasonably priced and fresh out of a bottle the waitress opened at our table.

We also chose an appetizer to share among the four of us — a half order of Bravoo bread, which is baked Italian bread topped with arugula, mozzarella, tomato, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and fresh basil ($3.75). It arrived quickly and, with four generous slices, was ample for allof us. The combination of crusty garlic bread and balsamic vinegar plus tomato and mozzarella was very tasty.

Forty minutes later — yes, 40 — our dinners were served. During that time, we did not see our waitress. Actually, truth be told, we did see her, but she did not return to our table as she was scooting around serving other tables and acting as hostess to the crowd of patrons in the foyer. Our water glasses were not refilled. Drinks were not offered. Appetizer plates were not cleared.

My dinner of veal piccata and angel-hair pasta($19.95), usually a foolproof choice, was fine but not fabulous. The veal was tender and plentiful enough, but the sauce tasted like brown gravy with capers and lacked the usual tang. There was half a lemon perched at the center of the plate, but it appeared that none of its juice had been added to the dish. Thankfully, the nest of pasta was quite good.

B.P.'s saltimbocca ($18.95) was swimming in a sauce that also resembled brown gravy rather than the promised Marsala wine and fresh sage. He reported that his veal was tender, like mine, but the accompanying herbed spinach, prosciutto and mozzarella contained no prosciutto. Ah, well — what's a detail or two?

To prevent another wait, we ordered a dessert while we were still eating dinner. And when the tiramisu arrived — it was fine, nothing outstanding — we asked for the check.

It must mean something that Bravoo was booked solid on a Saturday night. But our experience was soured by the slow service. Maybe some of the staff didn't show up that night.

With more consistent service and more attention to detail, dinner at Bravoo could aspire to a good old American "bravo!"

Bravoo
9930 Midlothian Turnpike
Midlothian Green Shopping Center
320-8029
Monday-Thursday 5-9 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 5-10 p.m.
Reservations

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