Briscola

Casino:Grand Sierra Reno
Type:Fine Dining
Cost:$$$$, Pricey. Many entrees over $25.
Menu:Italian
Last Visit:February, 2010

Summary

Briscola opened in July 2009. It's a high-end Italian restaurant operated by Charlie Palmer, who also runs Charlie Palmer Steak, and Fin Fish at the Grand Sierra. Their website bills Briscola as "A family style, Italian eatery, Chef Palmer’s menu includes Italian favorites at affordable family prices", a description that couldn't be less accurate. Prices were anything but affordable, and the environment was no where near family friendly. With spotty service and mostly average food, we won't be going back soon. Summary Review: C+

Food

The meal started with warm bread and an odd tasting spread billed as roasted garlic, but more like hummus. The Caesar salad was a typical presentation of uncut romaine hearts with sparse toppings, and dressing a bit too heavy on the anchovy flavor. We ordered lasagna, and bucatini pasta with shrimp, pancetta, and a spicy tomato sauce. The bucatini was excellent - the noodles were full of flavor, the meats complimented the base nicely, and the tomato sauce was wonderfully spicy. However, the lasagna was a multi-layer miss of over-cooked noodles and ricotta lacking flavor. Dessert was lemoncello cheesecake that fell somewhere between good and average, depending on what style cheesecake you prefer. Food Review: C

Atmosphere

Briscola has a small entrance along the main row of restaurants at GSR. There are two main dining areas, divided by a small bar. The restaurant is across from a lounge/bar area, and right next to the buffet, so depending on the evening casino crowd, dining in the front section could be a less pleasant experience than the back room where we sat. There are a few too many tables in the back section though, and we felt crowded as the place filled up, including having a busser's derriere a bit too close as he served the table next to us. Additionally, the large plates quickly filled up the small table, requiring contortionist maneuvers to get a piece of bread or beverage throughout our meal. The lighting was perfect - enough to converse by and eat without being noticeable. The elegant wine cellar along the side wall would have looked excellent if not for a few stray boxes sitting on an open shelf and laying on the floor. But this is not a place to bring kids, definitely an adult-only restaurant. Atmosphere Review: C+

Service

We called for reservations a few days before our meal, and were offered a 6:45pm as the only opening. Declining it as too late for our schedule, we were pleased the hostess offered to "fit us in" at 5:30. While dining, we noted the restaurant was no where near filled up at either time slot, so it's likely they currently have a staffing problem more than a seating problem. On arrival, we were seated quickly, and greeted by one of our servers for the evening. Bread was delivered quickly, and our server recommended a glass of house Merlot for our budget. We then got the run-down of the specials, and our order was taken. The salad and entrees arrived quickly, and plates were taken away when completed. The timing and pace was very good initially, but as the place slowly filled up, the attentiveness of the staff dropped dramatically. There was a long wait before we received a dessert menu, and our waiter neglected to tell us the dessert special, which we would have chosen over what we ordered if given the option. The bus staff did a fine job of keeping the table clear, the waters full, and other occasional duties. Service Review: B

Value

One salad, a glass of Merlot, a soda, two entrees, one dessert, and tip added up to exactly $100. The wine list included mostly what we would consider expensive wine, with very few less than $40 a bottle. We never saw list of wine by the glass, but our server indicated most were $14 on average, with $8-9 being the cheapest. The table next to us brought their own wine, and paid a bold $25 corkage fee to drink it. That fee is waived if you choose to buy a bottle from the restaurant as well. Unfortunately, our $8 glass was a very light pour, and at $3.50 for a soda, we recommend drinking water instead. The lasagna entree at $20 simple wasn't very good at any price. The bucatini was $22, and three jumbo shrimp added an additional $8 to the cost. While this entree was very good, $30 for pasta is still a bit pricey. Our dessert was $6, and priced about right. As a side note, we browsed the menu earlier in the day online, and were surprised to find not only was the menu at the restaurant different, but the prices were higher in many cases where the items were the same. We simply didn't have a $100 experience here. Value Review: C-