Outside the sign still says “Tony and Luigi’s,” but a smaller sign underneath reads “Brio.” Inside the place still has more of a Tony and Luigi’s look than that of a trendy new purveyor of California cuisine. Until, that is, you take a look at the menu.
If it seems a little familiar, that’s no surprise. This is Alice’s Brio as in Alice’s of Malibu. Fans of chef Andre Guerrero will be glad to know that they won’t have to wait until the new Alice’s opens at Sunset and PCH next year to eat his food. For while the view here cannot compare with the one off the Malibu pier (look out the window and you get a fine view of a pet shop), the new Brio, 18663 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 609-7494, has one of the most ambitious menus in the Valley. For starters, there are dishes like grilled quail on fried angel hair pasta, roasted eggplant soup and a particularly lovely chicken salad with arugula, eggplant, pine nuts and orange. There are pizzas, all sorts of elegant pasta dishes and entrees that run the gamut from lobster with savoy cabbage and shiitake mushrooms to osso buco and rack of lamb.
I can’t say that everything I ate was wonderful, and prices are on the high side (main courses are $13.95 to $19.95), but there’s a fine wine list, the service is extraordinarily pleasant--and the kitchen produces a stunning Grand Marnier souffle.