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Fraggle | Nov 28, 2004 11:34 AM

Having read and heard great things about Bruna's, I finally tried it last night. I was expecting basic, Italian-American, red sauce fare and it was exactly, perfectly that.

The bread was fresh and crusty, perfect for either the butter or olive oil offered. Fresh shredded cheese (presumably parmesan) mixed nicely with the olive oil. Salted bread sticks were also offered but I never got there.

Our table ordered three appetizers: baked clams, portobello mushroom and fried calamari. Solid all, nothing special but well executed. One diner ordered the spinach egg drop soup and two other diners tasted it, all agreeing it was very good.

I ordered veal parmesan. Thin, tender, with melted cheese and topped with red sauce--enough to complement the meat but not so much that the plate was drowned in sauce. It was also the kind of red sauce I like, a little sweet. It came with sauteed green beans and potato slices. The green beans snapped nicely and glistened. I asked for a side of pasta instead of the potato slices and it was very good, again probably because I like their sauce so much.

I tried another diner's mushroom ravioli (porcini?) in some kind of cheese sauce. It was good, though very rich. I also tried someone's gnocchi in meat sauce. I'm a sucker for gnocchi and enjoyed Bruna's rendition--nicely chewy without falling apart or becoming mealy. The meat sauce was very heavy on the meat, not sweet like the red sauce.

Our table split two orders of the berry torte, which we were told came straight from Italy. I doubt that but in any event it was a decent dessert: berries and custard on an unremarkable pastry crust. All the desserts were in a refrigerated cooler in the dining room. That kind of turned me off and I probably won't order dessert next time.

The service was top rate. The waiters and bus staff kept our plates cleared, water glasses full and bread basket full. The waiter offered suggestions when asked but was never pushy. We dined for nearly three hours without ever feeling rushed.

Thanks to all those who recommended Bruna's, it's a restaurant I wouldn't have otherwise found. And now I can't wait to return.

Bruna's Ristorante
2424 S. Oakley

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