Before the holidays, I noticed that the "For Lease" sign was down from the front of the old Monroe Diner (which was the old Pare). Then, I noticed that the three transom windows above the restaurants front French doors held three red neon signs: "Wood" "Fired" "Pizza." Then, I thought, OMG! But, the French doors held two other signs: "Open" "Soon." Now, those doors hold signs reading "Now" "Open" and the front has a sign for Brick Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta. And, so we headed over early on a Friday night--early because what pizza place is not a mad house on a Friday, especially one promising "wood fired" anything on a 20 degree January night.
Brick's interior looks nothing like either of its predecessors except for the long bar on one side and a dining space on the other. It's warm and woody--with long or round comfy wood tables of various heights and rich colors. The space is anchored by the namesake wood burning oven in the far corner. When we arrived, just one other table was seated, but the line to pick up "to-go" pizzas was already out the door. Within 15 minutes of our arrival, the place was packed, with a line waiting for tables out the door.
I came with the kids and my husband was to follow from work, so we decided to start with some wings: wood fired in a mild sauce. My daughter didn't like the sauce; my son remembered that his tooth hurt from a newly placed expander. So, I had 10 wings I really shouldn't be eating at all (New Year's Resolution stuff) ... so I compromised and ate 4 :) They were deliciously grill-charred. Yum!
Still waiting, we ordered for the table. Brick has 20 different specialty pizzas. I chose the Szechwan for my husband and Veggie Lover for myself. My son got the Macaroni & Cheese pizza; my daughter the Make Your Own Pizza with Linguine and Creamy Alfredo sauce off the kids' menu. (It's also on the regular menu in a bigger portion.)
All meals come with a family style salad that is mainly lovely crunchy lettuce with smaller portions of cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. It's tossed with a spiky creamy Italian dressing that's got a nice hint of herbs (including dill) and some very crunchy homemade focaccia croutons. Good starter--especially since it comes with! It's accompanied by warm fresh focaccia with the table's choice of spicy or traditional marinara. We went with the spicy--not too hot but had a good kick. The kids loved the bread and wanted to finish it all off.
Dinners came but my husband never did. So, after trying a slice of his pizza, we boxed it up. As my children observed: "It's like Chinese food on a pizza!" The crisp crust was topped with Szechuan sauce (plummy and hot), chicken, carrots, green peppers, scallions, peanuts, cilantro, and a sprinkling of mozzarella. It all really came together wonderfully--no one flavor overwhelmed the other.
I opted out of the black olives for my pie, which came on another great crust: crispy with a good bite to it, thin without being cracker-like. It subbed basil pesto for the sauce and layered on broccoli, mushrooms, red and green peppers, onions and mozzarella. The pesto had a great garlic base that really sparked all the veggies. So good.
My son's pizza had the same crust and was topped with a really creamy mac and cheese with a mix-in of crispy bacon bits and topped by crunchy bread crumbs. It was indulgent, over the top and the perfect kid's pizza. Each slice would likely add a good 10 lbs to a grown-up. My son ate half a 10 inch pie and then gave a piece to his sister. (Have I mentioned that he holds his pants up with suspenders? He should eat 5 of these things!)
My daughter is the pasta queen. Her linguine was swirled with a rich, deeply garlicky alfredo sauce. I risked one bite ... okay, two bites--and then had to move my fork to the other side of the table. You could live in this sauce. Really delicious! She ate about 2/3, saving the last bit for breakfast (I know!). However, it never made it to the fridge when we got home--went straight from the take out container to my husband's stomach.
I have a sense that Brick will last. The food is yummy and really reasonably priced (10" pizzas are $8-12 and really could serve two with the salad); the adult Make Your Own Pasta starts at $10 with a bit extra for meats or roasted veggies. Plus, there's a whole other side to the menu (burgers, wood fired meats and baked pastas) that we didn't even touch. If you plan on going after 6, make a reservation or be prepared to wait ... and eat ... a lot!