It’s been quite some time since I last visited Bruno’s Italian Kitchen in Brea. Therefore, when I was visiting my friends who live out that way, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to dine here with them — I am always happy to introduce people to restaurants they’ve never been to.
We arrive to a bustling restaurant filled with diners. I’m really glad I made reservations — highly suggested if you’re going to dine there. Once seated, we went through the menu with my friend’s mom whose English isn’t at a caliber where she is able to decipher menu descriptions. Our server, Brian, was so patient and guided us through the meal like a pro.
We started with Bruno’s famous Polpette ($9). My best friend is reluctant to order these as she puts it “I don’t like meatballs”. I assure her these are no ordinary meatballs. Needless to say, when Nonna’s meatballs hit the table, she eats most of it declaring them the best she’s ever eaten. The fresh tomato sauce covers the airy meatballs and we wipe the skillet clean with bread which we originally insist Brian take away — I didn’t want them to fill up on bread. I love the use of ricotta salata for that little hint of saltiness.
Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the Cozze ($14), a heaping bowl of PEI mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and fennel which we greedily devour. Then, I ask for a spoon to lap up the remaining broth. What an incredibly umami-filled dish this is. Salads are ordered as well, but naturally, I didn’t take a photo of those either.
I remember pasta being exceptional here, so Tony orders Lasagna al Forno ($17.50) which I take several bites of. The fresh pasta makes such a difference, layered between home made bolognese and rich bechamel sauce. It is a hearty and extremely rich entree, not to mention, a very generous portion. Between the four of us, there is not a speck of lasagna left in the bowl even though that alone would have been two meals for me.
Pappardelle Bruno ($18.50) is a dish I remember well. Tender braised short ribs with meaty roasted mushrooms, all tossed together with perfectly executed house-made pappardelle. This dish is never to leave the menu, do you hear? Never!
My friend’s mom orders Salmone ($21), a piece of grilled Scottish salmon topped with sundried tomato basil salsa, and served with white polenta and Brussels sprouts. It is a respectable dish, but not one I will order when there are SO many other incredible options to choose from.
Bistecca “Flat Iron” ($26) offers grilled flat iron steak prepared to your desired temperature and accompanied with creamy polenta with balsamic roasted cippolini onions. A stellar meat-eater’s entree, but I’m still all about the house-made pastas!
And if you have room for dessert — which I usually don’t — there are some delicious selections on the menu. My two favorites include: Budino de Caramello ($7.50), caramel pudding with chocolate ganache and topped with whipped cream.
Or, Panna Cotta ($7.50) — and this one is sublime — with hints of vanilla bean, fresh strawberries, and a sweet/tart balsamic glaze you’ll want more of. I would have liked another order of this as Tony and I are sharing this plate, but it dwindles fast. Being the gentleman that he is, I get the last bite.
Although Bruno’s Italian Kitchen is considered a neighborhood restaurant, it is so much more than that. Its well thought out menu is not only solid, but it is at a reasonable price point that will appeal to all. You can bring your date, your family, your kids — everyone will love a meal here. My friends were thoroughly impressed, and hopefully, will never see meatballs in the same way again.
Bruno’s Italian Kitchen
210 W Birch Street
Brea, CA 92821