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After winning a $50 gift card from a contest facilitated by the {now defunct} local events calendar Spotobe.com, my lovely girlfriend and I stopped in for a romantic evening at the most talked about restaurant in Harrisburg. I will say that I’ve been here a number of times for lunch and always left impressed, but I still had this feeling that somehow the place was over hyped.

I could not have been more wrong.

If you’ve never been inside Bricco, the place has a classy and modern New York City type of feel to it. You quickly feel relaxed and comfortable as you peruse the menu and extensive wine list. The lighting, music, and pace of the restaurant is just perfect. Our server for the evening was nothing less; attentive, courteous, and knowledgeable of every single aspect of the drink and food menus. Very impressive, in fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’ve never had better service anywhere, ever.

After a few complimentary samples from the wine list we decided on drinks and focused our attention to appetizers. We decided on 3 cold small plates, similar to tapas; house made pickled vegetables, grilled asparagus, and eggplant with raisins, pine nuts, and roasted peppers. All three dishes were exquisite, and I especially enjoyed the pickled vegetables, they were just exceptional and bursting with flavor.

Following the appetizers, I decided on the Bricco Bolognese and my counterpart ordered the Sage Pappardelle. Wow. I can hardly express how impressed I was with the quality and flavor of these extraordinary dishes. The Bricco Bolognese was a combination of house made sausage, meatballs, pancetta, chicken, mortadella, tomato sauce and polenta that was just amazing down to the very last bite. The portion was rather large and loaded with meat but believe me there was not a bite spared when all was said and done. The Sage Pappardelle was a more delicate dish, but no less incredible. The raised duck, red wine and pancetta ragout just melted in your mouth and was so succulent that we couldn’t help but finish the entire plate. We enjoyed the food so much that we unfortunately left no room for dessert!

That will have to wait for another day, but I am certain I’ll return to Bricco. While the lunch menu is wonderful you really must make a dinner visit to truly experience the brilliance of the food and atmosphere of the restaurant. Bricco has firmly established itself in my mind as setting the standard for fine dinning well beyond Harrisburg.

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