In its basic form, bruschetta is an Italian antipasto treat that consists of grilled bread that's been rubbed with garlic and olive oil, and finished with good, flaky salt. According to writer and chef Marcella Hazan, the dish is likely as old as Rome itself and spread through the rest of Italy, gathering new ingredients in each town.
These days, we top bruschetta with almost any ingredient under the sun. Tomatoes are probably the most common, but vegetables, beans, cured meat, and cheeses are also tasty toppers. While this is a simple dish you can easily make at home, and one of the best ways to use up tomatoes, most of us don't have a fantastic slice of hardy Italian bread on hand. Fortunately, there are Italian restaurants (and a few surprising spots) creating excellent variations on this dish as starters and sometimes even lunch items.
We found the best restaurants across the United States making this dish, so you can crunch a bit of bread when you want it.
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano
Founded in Illinois in 1999, this popular chain spans the Midwest with 17 locations and growing. They have an extensive toppings selection for their bruschetta appetizers, including a Classico with tomatoes, a Seafood Scampi with crab and shrimp, and a Fig and Apple with Goat Cheese. Diners can order and mix and match the flavors—which we highly recommend.
Brio Italian Grille
With nearly 60 locations around the country, this restaurant, founded in 1992 in Columbus, Ohio, serves up hearty portions of Italian-American cuisine. The upscale chain offers a bruschetta sampler with three tantalizing options. You'll snack on Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta with Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Tomato and Ricotta with Balsamic Drizzle, and Sliced Steak Bruschetta with Gorgonzola and Arugula.
Buca di Beppo
With locations strewn from California to Pennsylvania, almost everyone has access to this cozy, fun Italian spot. Before diving into a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, try their bruschetta, which sees parmesan crostini topped with Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can get a gluten-friendly option by having the meal without the parmesan crostini.
Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse
This small steakhouse chain, with six locations in New York and Florida, serves a crowd-pleasing menu of Italian American classics like chicken Sinatra, shrimp scampi, and a menu of Midwestern grain-fed aged steaks with an Italian flair. To start the meal, their bruschetta starts off with grilled Italian bread which is then brushed with olive oil and garlic and topped with provolone, tomato, and basil.
This fine-dining restaurant has about 20 locations across California and Nevada, and was first established as a restaurant and bakery. Available for dinner, lunch, and as part of happy hour, the restaurant switches things up a little by making the dish with ciabatta bread that's been grilled with garlic. An order comes with an assortment of toppings: caponata, roasted cherry tomatoes, salsa tartufata, and stracciatella cheese.
Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
With 14 locations across the country, this upscale steakhouse has a crowd-pleasing menu of steak and Italian specialties. Before you dive into the steak risotto, try the Betta Bruschetta, made with grilled focaccia bread, Roma tomatoes, goat cheese, onions, olive oil, and basil.
Maggiano's Little Italy
One of the most popular Italian restaurants in the country, with over 50 locations, Maggiano's offers bruschetta on their lunch and dinner menus. Before you get your chicken and spinach manicotti, enjoy a little antipasto. The chain offers a fairly traditional bruschetta, topped with tomatoes, basil, balsamic glaze, roasted garlic, and pesto.
McCormick & Schmick's
The upscale steak and seafood restaurant, with locations in every part of the country, has an excellent happy hour that's a great deal for anyone looking to sample their menu for a little less. They offer calamari, Baja fish tacos, pork belly bao buns, and a simple, satisfying bruschetta. Grilled bread is topped with vine-ripened tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic. This is only available during happy hour, so check the times before visiting.
Postino Wine Cafe
Nothing pairs better with antipasto than a full-bodied Italian wine, and this wine cafe with locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas delivers both. Their bruschetta is offered board-style, and diners can pick four toppings from a list of 12 options, including traditional types like fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil, and more unique toppers like smoked salmon and Mexican street corn.
Romano's Macaroni Grill
Founded back in 1998 in Texas, Romano's has over 30 locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and more. With big portions and a menu packed with Italian-American classics, this is a crowd-pleasing spot. Bruschetta is on the menu as an antipasti option. Diners pick two from a selection of bites like Brussels sprouts, mac and cheese bites, and an indulgent bruschetta with grilled rosemary bread, whipped ricotta, Roma tomatoes, garlic, and basil.