This past Sunday was my 22nd birthday, and I wanted to eat pasta. Pasta and noodles are my favorite foods, but my family doesn’t eat Italian food very often because my mom is allergic to milk and my dad is pretty picky. So I take advantage when the meal is my choice! I had originally chosen Salute in Hartford for the mac and cheese, famous garlic cheesy bread and their selection of mules for my birthday meal, until I realized they don’t open until 3 p.m. on Sundays. Instead, we headed to West Hartford for my second option, Restaurant Bricco. The ambiance and food were solid, but I’m sure my experience will be even better once I’m no longer pescetarian — I’m looking at you, lamb ragu. The menu is pretty diverse and sizeable with pizza, pasta, main plates and appetizers. So although my first experience wasn’t mind-blowing, I think it’s a restaurant I would want to return to.
The Italian-American restaurant is larger than I expected on the inside and has a classy casual ambiance, which was exactly what I was looking for. We were seated in a nice, private corner booth and left with a fragrant, freshly baked bread of focaccia. The herbs and bread texture was on point, with a crispy but not hard crust and fluffy interior to sop up with the provided olive oil. I ordered a seasonal cocktail of which they offered a solid selection. The apricot blossom with rum and peach was oddly served in a regular glass with no presentation at all. The drink was fine, but tasted a bit strongly of alcohol, although I didn’t necessarily feel too much of its effects.
For appetizers, we ordered the fried calamari ($13) with Calabrian chili aioli and a spicy tomato sauce and truffled risotto fritters ($9) with marinara sauce and baby arugula. One thing I’ll say about all the food is that everything is a reasonable portion. Of course, big portions are nice because more bang for your buck, but not as ideal for appetizers, which you try to finish before your entree. The calamari were crisp and amazingly tender — not chewy at all! The accompanying aioli had a nice kick, and the fact that the arugula it was served on was dressed in a vinaigrette was a nice touch. The arancini were a bit small and strangely sweet; I was expecting to be overwhelmed with truffle and instead was thrown off by the sweetness. I had to continually dip the fritter in the sauce to finish my second one.
I wanted a classic cheesy pasta dish for my birthday, and the freshly made fettuccine ($17) certainly delivered. I love fettuccine alfredo, but sometimes it’s too rich for me to eat more than a few bites of. The pasta had a nice bite and the sauce was perfectly creamy — not too oily or heavy at all. Another issue with some fettuccine alfredo dishes I’ve had before are that they’re creamy, but honestly don’t have much taste. I need some salt and pepper, people! Well, this pasta had just enough flavor without being overwhelming.
My family members were also content with their entree choices of mustard barbecue glazed salmon ($22), panko and herb crusted cod ($21) and penne ala vodka ($15). I think next time we’ll definitely try one of the pizzas, the alleged Instagram cheesy garlic toast and the braised lamb ragu.