More Than a Feeling
Brano Kunik will tell you two things about his restaurants. First, they are not your typical mom and pop Italian pasta houses. Yes, you can get fine classic Italian dishes here, but there’s more.
“We feature a lot of seafood and steaks, but we ARE an Italian restaurant.” Brano says. “We have fantastic family-style meals on our to-go menu that go out every day. Locals and visitors love that for about $39 they can take home a complete Italian dinner with pasta, salad and bread to feed 6.” That’s the heart of an Italian meal — families sitting around a table together enjoying good food.
Brano learned his trade working on cruise ships and at large hotels. Driving to and from work, he’d see a place, and its potential, and make a mental note of it. He’d talk to his friends about someday opening his own restaurant. One of those spots was on North Atlantic Avenue in Cocoa Beach, and when a friend told him it had become available, he jumped on it.
That is the Brano’s you see today. Open now for almost 8 years, it is a locals’ favorite. “You take friends there; it is that kind of place.” Brano adds.
Always a busy place in the evening, and a quieter place for lunch, the restaurant brings in local families, often more than once a week, and visitors to the area regularly return during their stay. Brano’s signature Zuppa Di Pesce and Sea Scallops Arrabiata have that effect on people.
On the day of our interview, chef prepared magnificent Shrimp Cucumber Rounds from the patio menu; a great combination of sliced cucumber topped with shrimp, bacon, cream cheese, roasted tomatoes, and kalamata olives, garnished with lemon and balsamic glaze. He also prepared a Pork Ribeye Au Jus as shown here, a more traditional preparation, but executed to perfection. The point being, you can come here for comfortable Italian favorites “straight out of mama’s kitchen,” or explore more creative expressions of the culinary art that comes from Brano’s kitchen.
We actually met Brano at his Indian Harbour Beach restaurant for this review. He’s regularly at both restaurants, but this one is newer and he gives a bit more time to it right now. He offered a great story about this location.
“I took my wife out on Mother’s Day for a nice dinner. We drove a bit, and saw this restaurant. It was an Italian restaurant, which we certainly can appreciate, so we stopped in.” Brano continued, “I noticed right away that the staff were wearing clothing similar to what my staff wears, but gave it no more thought. After we were seated, we overheard the table next to us talking about their favorite Italian food, and one of them mentioned proudly that Brano’s in Cocoa Beach couldn’t be beat.” There’s more. “Our server offered that the fish of the day was Corvina. This is not a common fish for restaurants to feature. As a matter of fact, for the first time, my restaurant was currently featuring Corvina, and here it was again!” The coincidences started adding up in Brano’s mind. Same clothing, people here at one Italian restaurant complimenting his, and then the Corvina.
That night he had a brief conversation with a business broker, more followed, and in a couple of months’ time, Brano re-opened the location as his own. He was not looking to expand, but still always has his eyes and ears open. “I like to say it is in my gut. Like the buildings I used to watch before I opened in Cocoa Beach, I just get a feeling about a place.”
Take your family and friends out for a meal with conversation, great food, maybe some wine, and amazing desserts at Brano’s. Or maybe grab a complete meal and take it home. But do yourself a favor and experience Brano’s. This is one of those rare places, and we’re lucky enough to have two of them. Both restaurants have the same menu, both have outside patios with menus featuring smaller plates and food for sharing. Indian Harbour Beach also has live music almost every night.
Lastly, as any good reviewer should do, upon hearing the story of how the second Brano’s came to be, we had to ask, “What are the plans for a third Brano’s?”
Brano answered with the second thing he’ll tell you about his restaurants, “I don’t know, there are no plans, but I’ll know it when I see it.”
Brano’s Italian Grill
3680 N. Atlantic Ave.
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
1940 Highway A1A
Indian Harbour Beach, FL 32937
Phone: (321) 783-6031 or (321) 757-2833
Web Address: BranosItalianGrill.com