Tucked away on Main Street is a little piece of Italy that’s always been on the back-burner of my foodie heart. I’ve walked by the little gray awnings, wondering- how authentic is the food? What kind of customers do they attract? Is it formal? Would my parents like the atmosphere?
Having hit up a lot of modern restaurants with friends over the past two years, Bruno’s hasn’t exactly been at the front of my mind. Our city’s food industry has been blossoming like crazy so I’ve been distracted by all the excitement. But the time finally came to give this little gem a try. Ladies and gentlemen, I present: Bruno’s Little Italy.
The Dean Martin lyrics fit the mood just right. It was an evening in Roma– right in our Little Rock. We arrived early because they don’t take reservations. (Not that a Tuesday evening was much to worry about anyway). But I’m always hungry after work, so I was ready for some pasta by the time Renée met up with me. A birthday celebration with my foodie friend calls for some fantastic eats- so one can be a little hesitant when trying a new place for a special celebration. But we took the risk and decided on Bruno’s Little Italy– a restaurant neither of us had yet tried.
On special nights, we eat appetizers. In addition to the delicious bread, Renée wanted to order some toasted ravioli. This was my first time to try toasted ravioli so I don’t have any experiences to compare. It was pretty good though! I find it fascinating to see what different cultures do with basic ingredients. Pasta with a crunch? Okay! It was filled with ricotta and came with a side of meat sauce for dipping.
I went in craving spaghetti, but also wanted a taste of another sauce. After some debate, I decide on the Chicken Tetrazzini- a blend of pulled chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce with oregano. This came with a side of spaghetti with meat sauce. And guys, it was delicious! I know I say that a lot- but this was amazing. It’s one of those sauces that screams for bread to be dipped in it- almost like a thick soup.
The juicy marinara meat sauce on the spaghetti served as a great contrast and palette cleanser. The spaghetti was soft and slipped right around the fork and into my mouth. It’s always a good thing when your noodles aren’t sticking together. 😉
I’m a mushroom fan so I may be a little partial to this dish. The balance of flavor between the fresh herbs and chicken collaborated perfectly with the creamy sauce. The chicken itself was cooked just enough- and the mushrooms weren’t slimy or stiff. I was impressed by the flavors in both sauces. I could detect different fresh ingredients. In general, I’m not a big meat sauce fan, but I couldn’t say no to that spaghetti!
The atmosphere of the restaurant is quiet- but not to the extent of white tablecloths and dim lighting. It can be an excellent date night choice, but is also a good place for a small group of friends or family members. The wait staff was wonderful. They are so nice and were constantly filling up our glasses and asking if we wanted more bread. In addition to our main waitress, we had two or three other people waiting on us and seeing if we needed anything. When it came time for to-go boxes, our waitress packaged that up for us.
The food is a little pricey. This is definitely a special occasion place for my wallet. But sometimes you have to treat yourself to a good time and authentic food. I really enjoyed my selection, the location, and the people. I was certainly stuffed when we left- and happy to have lunch packed up for another day. I’ll be back one day, Bruno’s!