I do love writing food reviews and going out to my press dinners. I love it even more when the restaurant is really good. Often, even with really great selections, there are items that fall off the mark and disappoint a bit. Every once in a while you happen upon a place where everything you try is divine. Brick + Wood is just that place. Now, of course, I feel the need to preface my pieces by saying that food, like art, is really all subjective. What I may love, you may not.
Paolo and Clara Cavalli opened Brick + WOOD in The Brick Walk in Fairfield, Connecticut just 3 weeks ago to a steady stream of very happy diners. Located in the former Ponte Vecchio location the space and the concept have been redesigned to embrace a fresh beginning and a new dining experience for a new generation. Haverson Architecture & Design of Greenwich, CT, has redesigned the space, transforming it into a multi-layered / multi-sensory restaurant and bar.
Much of the design is framed by stressed wood and worn Chicago brick with pockets of space throughout filled with stacks of wood that heat the oven. The mosaic tiled pizza oven and the butcher block and Calcutta Ciero marble top mozzarella bar are the focal point of the dining room.
Brick + Wood is home to the area’s first all-tap wine bar, accentuated by a steel backdrop and wooden taps. The beverage program is a first of its kind in the area and boasts the largest selection of wines on tap along the Eastern Seaboard. Their wine selection is tremendous, but you can't ignore their creative cocktails. Word has it that the Wood Martini is divine. Their sangria is wonderful and unique, made with limoncello and fresh fruit. Their Cider Shooter is a fun fall beverage - It's not (yet) on the menu but you should ask for it.
In addition to craft cocktails and premium beer selections, the impressive line-up can be served by the glass, in flights as a 2 oz taste, ½ carafe or full carafe, via a contemporary wine tap design which maintains the integrity of wine. Our wines were paired with our food, from light and refreshing to match the flavors of the street food, to bold to hold up to the flavors of the pizzas, one of which had a lot of heat.
Wine Taps are environmentally friendly. Brick + Wood has researched, sipped and sourced the best wines from around the world from winemakers who want their varietals to continuously shine from start to finish. These wines are stored in stainless steel kegs and maintained at optimal temperature – reds at 62 degrees and whites at 42 degrees. In a properly sealed keg where the wine is not exposed to oxygen, even when tapped repeatedly, the last ounce of wine tastes as fresh as the first.
Brick + Wood’s offers an evocative and inspiring menu which lends itself to a dining experience that's as visual as it is tasteful. A Mozzarella Bar is visible and accessible to all in the restaurant. Watch as the chefs prepare hand-pulled mozzarella all day long. In addition, imported dried and cured meats such as capocollo, mortadella, prosciutto and salami are thinly sliced to order.
Our burrata was fresh, almost warm with a creamy center. The truffle filled center added a luxurious taste to an already decadent treat, the freshly shaved prosciutto complemented it perfectly.
Street Food... It doesn't get much more simple than ricotta and caramelized onions on homemade crostino and yet the sweetness of the onions and the creaminess of the ricotta are perfectly balanced with the crispiness of the toasts.
Montanara Pizze Fritte - Yes, just as it looks and sounds - fried pizza dough. This tender soft just slightly crisp dough melts in your mouth, topped with their own marinara sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes are a simple delight. I'm not sure I would order these before a pizza, but certainly I would if I was sitting at the bar and needed something to nibble on while drinking my wine.
You've not had a croquette until you've tried their Loaded Baked Potato Crochette. Made from mashed potatoes, bacon, chive and cheese, these are truly decadent.
Arancini are a traditional street fare. Little balls of rice deep fried and stuffed with either bacon, cheese and jalapeno sauce, four cheeses and vodka sauce or pear and gorgonzola with a sage brown sauce. I wasn't sure I would like the latter, I quite liked the combination of the pear and the gorgonzola. The inside was rich and creamy and the flavors balanced beautifully. If you're up for trying something a little different, I recommend trying these.
Next was the Arugula Salad, the little leaves were served with thin slices of pear, and candied walnuts in a maple vinaigrette. Again, I was not expecting to like this - I tend not to like salads on the sweeter side, but this worked for me. The maple in the dressing was just sweet enough to balance the bite of the arugula.
Now let's talk pizza. THIS is pizza. This is the pizza that brings me back to Rome and Florence and some of the tiny pizzerias in Tuscany and Umbria... The thin crust that has the right amount of chew and isn't brittle like most thin crusted pizzas are here. Brick + Wood's “perfect pizza” is a labor of love and is certified by the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN), an association formed in Naples by pizza makers to preserve the authentic Neapolitan pizza values. (Supported by the Italian government, this rigorous certification process is required by any restaurant in Italy wishing to serve authentic Neapolitan pizza. Only a handful of pizzaiolos in the United States have earned this distinction.)
Brick + Wood pizza starts with fresh dough, handmade on the premises and leavened for 24-48 hours. Using Italian imported San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and house made fior di latte mozzarella; the pizza is then cooked in a 900 degree wood-fired oven for about 90 seconds, which marks the pizza with flame blackened blisters along the crust and bottom. From this perfect “anatomy of a pizza”, creative, as well as classic toppings can be added.
We tried three of their pizza. First we had the Margherita - traditional made with San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, fresh mozzerella and olive oil. It was good, it was very good but I prefered the "white" pizza - althought not white by traditional standards this one had no red sauce, simply their fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, shaved, Parmagiano and a touch of balsamic glaze. I enjoyed this one very much.
My favorite, however, was the Diavola (Texas Heat) which is made from spicy Sopressata, garlic, jalapenos and oregano with just a touch of spicy honey drizzled over the top. There is no sweetness to this pizza at all, but the honey takes a bit of the edge off the heat. Don't get me wrong. There is still plenty of heat here for you heat lovers!
And finally, even though I had no room left, I had to try the two desserts that were presented to us. We were given a slice of S'mores pizza... While it may not be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, it certainly tasted good - with all the flavors you'd expect. My favorite, however, was their cranberry and white chocolate bread pudding. I don't ordinarily get dessert, but this was truly outstanding. It was decadent and yet comforting. While I might not order this after my pizza... I would absolutely come for dessert, paired with a nice robust red, or warm cup of espresso, this is a treat that simply must be tried.
If you are in or near the Fairfield, Connecticut area, this should be a must on your places to eat out - whether on a date or as a family with the children. We'll be there at some point this weekend!