Look, there are tons of Italian restaurants in CT, especially in Fairfield County. Some of ’em you can love, some you can just like, and some you can say aren’t even as good as Olive Garden (and that’s saying something). Well, after our press dinner we think Brick + Wood, the newest Italian spot to open in Fairfield in November 2014, is one you can love. We’re gonna break down the reasons why . . .
Let’s start with with adult beverages . . . because isn’t that where one should always start? They have a solid selection of cocktails, 8 brews on tap, and 30 different wines they have on tap . . . yes, on tap–the most in Fairfield County, actually. We started with the Sunrise Italiano cocktail with tequila reposado, aperol, freesh squezed lime, and pineapple. This was a very nicely balanced drink, not too fruity or sweet with a great subtle buzz from the tequila. Then we moved onto various well-paired wines throughout the dinner. For dessert we indulged in a cocktail right up our ally: Breakfast Russian, which featured Breakfast Stout added to a White Russian. There were all the flavors you’d expect from a White Russian, but with an added richness and malty flavor from the beer. Sure, it sounds weird on paper, but it’s damn good!
For the next part of our meal, we tried out three of Brick + Wood’s Neapolitan Street Food options: Croquettes, Montanara “Pizze Frite,” and Arancini.
Croquettes: bacon, chives, bechamel sauce. These had a nice smoky flavor from the bacon. The mashed potato was creamy, but still had those occasional chunks you look for. Nicely fried, not too heavy like fried food tends to get.
Pizze Frite: these tasted and looked like a typical zeppole–light, fluffy, and yummy. The marinara sauce on top was rich and thick with light hints of basil, while the Parmigiano added a nice cut to the acidic tomato and flavor contrast.
Arancini: made with pear, and gorgonzola. These rice balls were a delicious twist of salty and sweet, rich and light, smooth and golden crispy. The sage brown sauce that it was served with was buttery, herbaceous, and added another flavor profile to this dish.
After we were all warmed up with some great starters, we were ready (and most excited) to try out some dishes from their Mozzarella and Burrata Bar. Before we even begin to describe how amazing they were, we need to say something awesome: they make some of their cheeses at the restaurant fresh that day . . . you can even see them magically making it right there at the bar. This is super impressive on so many levels considering most Italian places that you go to around here don’t make their own cheese at all.
Arugula Salad: pear, candied walnuts, fried bocconcini, and maple vinaigrette. The salad was a perfect mixture of flavors and textures, from the warm sweetness of the dressing, the light crunch from the pears, the deeper, bitter crunch from the walnuts, and a rich fattiness from the small bites of Mooz.
Truffle Burrata: our friends Kevin and Mary are both obsessed with this dish, claiming it’s the best burrata you’ll ever eat. We are happy to say they weren’t wrong AT ALL. Best EVER! The cheese itself was smooth and SUPER melt-in-your-mouth creamy on the inside, just a bit salty like a good cheese should be, with that warm earthy truffle undertone. This is a dish you will have fantasies about, naughty naughty cheese-filled fantasies about, and will make you come back as frequently as possible. Dammit, we want some as we type this.
Girelli: with a thin layer of Mooz, eggplant, prosciutto, and roasted peppers. This was basically like Italian sushi, if Italians had sushi. Eggplant’s tricky with us because we tend to get tired of it quickly, but it wasn’t overwhelming in the Girelli. The star of this, to us, was the delicate roasted red peppers. Although this was our least favorite dish of the night, we still enjoyed it more than we thought we would.
By this time, we were getting pretty full, but we powered on into three different pizzas, prepared in their wood-fired brick oven. Before we dive in, let’s talk about the oven for a hot minute. Get it? How hot, exactly? Well, it gets to be about 1000° at the bottom with pies staying in for only 60-90 seconds! It’s so fancy that kitchen staff are APN Pizza Certified to properly cook a pie in that masterpiece of an oven. And boy, was that worth it!
First up was the not-so basic Margherita prepared with San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, fresh Mooz, and EVOO. The crust was great, perfect actually. It’s made from only the best flour, Caputo 00 flour, imported from Italy. It had a nice give when you took a bite, nice and doughy in the middle with a little char on the edges, but not burnt. That’s no easy feat. The toppings married very nicely with the fresh mozzarella really coming through nicely.
Up next was the Arugula e Prosciutto pizza that had fresh Mooz, shaved Parmigiano, and a balsamic glaze on top. The Parm was a nice choice because it cut the acidic balsamic perfectly. The arugula lightened the whole thing up, and the prosciutto added a nice saltiness. Speaking of salt, Dan thought that the pizza needed more of it, but Kristien thought it was just the right amount.
And, finally, was the Diavola (Texas Heat) that we were looking forward to the most. This pie is made with spicy soppressata, garlic, jalapeños, and oregano. Again, this pie tasted fresh, coming right out of the oven. In contrast to the Arugula e Prosciutto pie, this one was just a bit too salty, most likely coming from the addition of the sausage. It wasn’t as spicy as we would’ve liked it, but we’re big into spice. We know most people probably don’t want their taste buds to be seared off by heat.
As always, we somehow (painfully) made it to dessert . . .
First up was the Caramel Bourbon Bread Pudding. This was buttery, and spicy with nice notes of nutmeg jiving throughout. This was not your typical bread pudding because it was softer and less dense with a subtle hint of bourbon. Overall pretty tasty!
Next was the Nutella Panzerotto, which was similar in a way to the Pizze Fritte. The dough was a bit too chewy and thick, but the Nutella stuffing and small chunks of bacon inside made up for that. The bacon added a saltiness and smokiness to the dish, elevating the flavors quite a bit.
Like we said when we started this review, there are so many Italian restaurants here in Fairfield County, so if you’re going to open one, you better be better than the rest in one or more areas if you’re going to survive. So what do we think Brick + Wood does better? Well, the most obvious is the mozzarella bar. It’s incredibly fresh and features the best burrata around. The street food, salads, and antipasti are better than many places we’ve been to as well. And while the pizza overall is not the best we’ve had, it’s definitely very good, particularly the sauce and crust. This is definitely a spot you need to check out, but be prepared for a wait because people have caught on to the fact that it’s so nomworthy!
Although we were invited to try the food at Brick + Wood, our opinions, feelings, words and tasting notes are our own.
Brick + Wood
Address: 1275 Post Road, Suite 7
Phone: (203) 939-1400