Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Auto Show and Italian Food…

I’m not much for looking at homes, furniture, autos, etc. unless I’m actually in the market to buy something… So, for the most part over the years I’ve been able to avoid model homes, furniture stores and auto dealerships unless we were in the market for a purchase.

Now that I’m retired, I can’t use the old excuse of valued time wasted…besides, in a year or so we will probably need a new/used car to replace my old 1998 Buick Regal.  So we were off to my first Auto Show ever…

The 24th annual Knoxville Auto Show was sponsored by the Knoxville News Sentinel Newspaper and it was held in the Knoxville Convention Center…down next to World’s Fair Park.  Unlike the big auto shows where the manufacturers bring in their newest, their best and their experimental cars, almost all of the cars on the convention hall floor were provided by local dealers.

This is one of Denny Hamlin’s NASCAR racecars.  The other ‘exotic’ manufacturer’s car on the convention floor was a $375,000 Lexus LFA.

I must admit that it was nice being able to look at the cars without being harassed by salespersons… We may not have chosen a new car but we did eliminate some models due to a lack of back seat legroom and/or lousy gas mileage. 
Auto Show complete… How about stopping somewhere for an early dinner!

Since we had a year old $25.00 gift certificate to Bravo! Cucina Italiana, choosing a restaurant was easy!  Bravo is part of the 30 state, 94 restaurant Bravo/Brio Group, with restaurants by those names dominating the company’s growth. The restaurants are described by the company as casual, upscale and affordable.

The dining area of the Bravo! Cucina Italiana restaurant in Knoxville is just about right…well lighted, upscale in appearance, with the tables nicely spaced avoiding any feeling of crowding.  Note: We were there in the late afternoon, well before the dinner crowd, so only 3 or 4 tables were occupied in the entire restaurant. 

The waitress started us out with some nice bread and plenty of flavorful dipping sauce.

In an effort to not overeat, we skipped the appetizers.  However, of the 9 appetizers on the menu, we would have probably ordered the Artichoke & Spinach Formaggio ($9.99); Calamari Fritti ($10.99) or; the Mezza Flatbread Roma with roasted Roma tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella and basil atop savory pizza sauce and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil ($6.49).  It should be noted that we both had a nice glass of ‘house’ wine. ($6.25)

For only $3.29 with our entree, we both added a Caesar Salad to start us out.  There were 4 other salads that we could have chosen from, as well as 3 different soups, for $3.99.  These were very good Caesar Salads!

I ordered the Sausage Tortelloni for my dinner. ($10.99) It was quite good, although the sauce had too much onion in it for my taste. (Admittedly, I do have some weird food dislikes and hang ups…)

The Italian sausage was what drew me in but I might have been better off if I’d ordered the Pasta Woozie, fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken and spinach ($13.99); Chicken and Pesto Rigatoni, with grilled chicken, fresh Mozzarella, basil, spinach and tomatoes in pesto cream sauce ($9.99), or perhaps; the Shrimp Fra Diavolo Campanelle, with sautéed shrimp and spicy tomato cream sauce ($15.99).

Sorry for this photo...It is horizontal in my picture file but no matter what I tried, I couldn't make it come out correctly in the blog. 

Laurie ordered one of her favorite Italian entrees…the lunch portion of the Lobster Ravioli ($11.99).  The dinner portion costs $16.99 but this smaller portion was more than enough to satisfy her appetite.  While she couldn’t describe this as the best Lobster Ravioli she’d ever had, it was very good indeed!

The menu at Bravo Cucina Italiana is fairly extensive.  There are 6 Specialty Pizzas ranging from $9.99 to $11.99; 18 House Specialties or Pasta entrees ranging from $9.99 to $18.99; 6 Seafood items ranging from $14.99 to $19.99 and; 6 entrees from the grill, including steaks, ranging from $16.99 to $28.99.  To view Bravo’s dinner menu, go to http://www.bravoitalian.com/dinner.html.
Chain restaurants have come a long way… Fifteen to twenty years ago, when I traveled, I avoided them in favor of local favorites as related to me by my market contacts.  Today, many of these chains have raised themselves to a new level, one that is easy to accept.  Although I still seek out local restaurants most of the time, I do visit the better quality chain operations.
The Knoxville Tennessee Bravo! Cucina Italiana restaurant is located at 106 Major Reynolds Place.  Phone: 865-584-5510.  For more information on this chain of restaurants, just go to http://www.bravoitalian.com/index.html.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dave, It must have been fun looking at all those fancy new cars. Especially since you were not in the market. There wasn't any pressure.
    The meal afterwards seems like it was good. The fact that you had the gift card made was a treat.
    Thank you for your visits and kind comments.
    Blessings my friend, Catherine