Brix Tapas Bar & Grill in Belleville is three restaurants in one.
Located in Belleville Plaza at 371 Franklin Ave., Brix is separated into three diverse dining rooms— the first serves tapas and fine cuisine, the second serves gourmet pizzas and the third is a bar serving beer, wine and cocktails.
The restaurant offers 17 varieties of tapas, which are snacks or appetizers served Spanish style. The tapas menu at Brix ranges from Zuppa Di Clams ($9) to Italian meatballs ($8), rice balls ($8) to broccoli rabe & sausage ($10).
We chose the calamari fritti ($10) and the shrimp in garlic sauce tapas ($11).
The calamari fritti tapas came with a choice of sauces — Asian ginger or homemade marina sauce. We asked for both with our order. The dish was a winner. The calamari was cooked correctly — not rubbery and battered perfectly.
We liked the homemade marinara sauce because of the intensity of the tomatoes and right balance of garlic in the sauce. However, we found the Asian ginger sauce unappealing and tasting like warmed-up Duck sauce.
The shrimp in garlic sauce was an epicurean delight, featuring a lovely clear tasty sauce loaded with garlic and spices and approximately a dozen medium-sized shrimp.
The shrimp tasted as if they had been sautéed in a saucepan prior to being added to the plate and perfectly cooked with a crunchy sound from each bite. The dish also included a small toasted piece of thick, crusty bread that was good for soaking up some of the excess sauce. One suggestion: Brix needs to serve the dish with a spoon to soak up the remaining sauce.
For entrees, we chose the New York Strip Steak ($28.50) and the Chicken on the Bone ($19.50). Each dish was served with mashed red-skinned potatoes and chef’s select vegetables, which turned out to be broccoli and carrot sticks. Both dishes were served in clay pots.
The menu is full of a variety of dishes featuring gourmet brick-oven pizzas, paninis, pasta dishes and Italian specialties. We were intrigued by the different dishes including the mushroom ravioli ($14.50) in Alfredo sauce, the linguini in clam sauce ($16.50) and on the-lighter-side, the steer burger ($8.50).
The Chicken on the Bone was deliciously prepared and served Savoy style, with a splash of balsamic vinegar. The dish consisted of four small chicken pieces that were more filling than they appeared. The meat was tender and juicy and the skin was covered with spices and herbs.
The mashed potatoes were thick and delicious and I thought the vegetables were soft, yet crunchy.
The New York Strip Steak was ordered for medium rare. When it arrived at the table, it was sizzling and hot. After slicing open the steak, it was cooked to perfection, as requested.
The steak can only be described as flavorful and abundant — a huge portion. The chef obviously knows how to prepare a meal. The meat did not need any spices or additional flavoring.
Other items to note about Brix Tapas Bar & Grill:
■ The restaurant features booths in the dining area, though our booth did not have salt and pepper shakers.
■ The dining area features high ceilings with fans and an open shaft for heat and air conditioning. We found the dining area a bit too cool for our liking.
■ The restaurant features both a unisex and individual bathrooms.
■ The bar area featured four to five television sets that televised sports.
■ Parking is free in the lot of Belleville Plaza.
■ Wednesday night is Karoke night and Thursday features music by a deejay.
Brix Tapas Bar & Grill
371 Franklin Ave (Belleville Plaza)
Lunch and Dinner daily 11 a.m. to midnight
Credit cards accepted