There's no shortage of casual restaurants in and around the sprawling Wakefield complex in North Raleigh, but until recently residents in those upscale neighborhoods had to put a few miles on the car if they were in the mood for fine dining. Since the opening of Bruno (11211 Galleria Ave.; 435-6640; www.brunoraleigh.com) in Wakefield Park, they can stay closer to home.
For that matter, it's a good bet that the casually elegant white tablecloth Italian steakhouse will draw fans from farther afield.
Owner Bruno Peros comes to Raleigh from New York, where he once worked at the legendary Peter Luger and subsequently opened his own successful steakhouse.
Peros' experience shows in a menu that covers the classic range of steaks and chops, as well as fresh seafood such as shrimp scampi and trout amandine, and an assortment of chicken, veal and pasta dishes.
Appetizers include oysters Rockefeller, clams Casino and, in a nod to the owner's new home, shrimp and grits. Oysters and clams are also available raw or steamed on the half shell, on request.
Homemade Italian ricotta cheesecake and tiramisu are "just like my Aunt Mary made," says manager/bartender Jim Foglia, "and I'm from New York."
The restaurant has a full bar, and Foglia is developing an ambitious wine list that already offers 12 wines by the glass. Bruno is open for lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner Monday-Saturday.
In Garner, a tavern
In Garner, Edwin Hoyt and Nathan Roby have taken a more casual approach to the steak-seafood-pasta theme with their new restaurant, TerraFin Station (25 Old Drug Store Road; 773-2220; www.terrafinstation.com).
The partners, who became friends while working for the Bahama Breeze chain, opened their first restaurant in the building that has previously been home to a string of eateries, most recently Yokohama Japanese restaurant. They've given the place a complete overhaul, including transforming the erstwhile sushi bar into a rustic tavern with exposed brick walls and sports TV screens.
For some, the tavern's happy hour menu, which is offered daily from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and includes the likes of lobster and shrimp cake ($3) and fish taco ($2), is sufficient attraction.
Those in search of more substantial fare will find an entree offering divided into three sections: Terra (landlubber fare including ribs, chicken - barbecued or fried - and an assortment of steaks); Fin (fresh seafood ranging from pan-seared scallops to fried tilapia) and Pasta (seafood Jambalaya, chicken and broccoli Alfredo, lobster and shrimp mac and cheese).
TerraFin Station serves lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and dinner nightly.