Friday, May 30, 2014

BricknFire Pizza Is Firing In Oella, Says Adam; Enjoy A Cool Walk To Great Food Off Main Street

BricknFire Pizza from opening day
On my list for this summer is an afternoon walk up a shady trail from Main Street to brick oven pizza.

The new BricknFire Pizza is operating from the parking lot of the Breadery in Oella.  The bakery is worth a walk on its own, but BricknFire is running a portable pizza oven that takes the place up a notch.  It all sits next to the Trolley Line #9 trail that runs up a shaded hill from downtown Ellicott City up into Oella.

When I wanted to try last weekend, BricknFire was out at winery.  But friend of the blog Adam checked out some pies at the early May opening, and he sent me a thoughtful piece that talked up the good:
The char
There’s a lot to like about BricknFire Pizza, but there are still some elements to work out. Set outside the rustic fa├žade of the Breadery and adjacent to the Trolley Trail, Brick’n Fire has a pastoral ambiance which bolsters the ethos of rustic, Neapolitan style pizza. Based on my initial tasting, they’re not far from it.

The opening day menu consisted of three pizzas; Cheese ($9), Margherita ($10), and Soppressata ($10). A brochure promises various “Chef Creation” pizzas at “market price” for the future, although specifics weren’t enumerated on.
I chose the Margherita and was delighted to see the pizza come out with a few fat air pockets and a number of charred spots dotting the outside of the crust. The pizza, about 10-inches or so, received an eight cut slicing, which I thought was unnecessary. My first thought when taking a bite was the dough had amazing flavor in the areas where the char hadn’t completely overtaken the crust. The dough has definitely been fermented and developed, but in spots it wasn’t just charred, it was burned and left a bitter taste. Judging by the one entire pizza I saw in the trash and the comments by the man rotating the pizzas in the oven, I’m guessing there are still inconsistencies to work out when it comes to getting the pizzas just right. Likewise, the four slices of basil on my pie was scorched beyond taste; a big no-no for a Margherita. 
The pizza oven
The good news is that the sauce is very flavorful, and the mozzarella is some of the best I’ve had on a pizza in my entire life. I asked where the sourced their mozzarella from and unfortunately couldn’t nail down a purveyor, but the cheese is milky-sweet with a touch of whole-milk richness that really rounds out. And, unlike some pies I’ve had at Facci, it doesn’t bleed excess water onto the crust. The sauce tends to the sweet side—necessary given the charring—but it had good balance and a bright tomato flavor. It’s definitely a light, lunch-style pizza, and one which most people should be capable of polishing off without problem.

Overall, Brickn Fire shows promise, but it leaves me wanting more. The pizza felt maybe a dollar or two overpriced, and it could have used a few more slices of mozzarella and basil (of the non-burnt variety). More importantly, I hope the guys manning the fire can get a better feel for their flames because burning such a flavorful dough, even if only in spots, brings down what otherwise is a great pie. I’m also hopeful the team will experiment with some seasonal and nontraditional flavors. Now that the county had Coalfire and Facci, it’s time to accept that old world style pizza isn’t at a premium anymore, meaning somebody has to step outside the sometimes narrow confines of topping combinations. I’ll continue to monitor Brick’n Fire Pizza because as a concept, they’ve got real promise. Now, it’s time for the hard part: consistent execution and innovation.
Seriously, the walk up the Trolley #9 Trail is just beautiful, and it's spectacular on a hot day because the thick trees keep the trail much cooler than most other places you could walk.  Call the Breadery to confirm that the pizza oven is firing that day.  But I promise that the breads and other items at the Breadery are worth the walk as well.

I have been out of commission for weeks with travel and illness. I'm trying to start up again, and I'll do a bunch of short posts about news that happened when I was home. This way, people will be able to find the posts if they're looking for a specific restaurant. Check them all out by clicking on Reset May 2014.


Marcia said...

The Breadery does post a schedule inside their building for the pizza.

I think there are still some people who don't understand the pizzas like BricknFire & Coalfire do - thin crust with bits of char (bugged about that whole pizza seen in the trash). It sure is a delicate balance in a hot oven like that, I am sure with more time BricknFire will get better. It sounds like they put a lot of thought and care into the ingredients so you KNOW they want the final product to be delicious.

Chris said...

It really does seem as though a lot of thought and care did go into the ingredients. Even their "pepperoni" is not just pepperoni, it is instead soppressata... Yum! And when I went I asked about the tomatoes in their sauce and they said they were San marzano tomatoes... I looked them up and it seems they truly are using the best ingredients. I live along the trolley trail and love having BricknFire so close. I've gone each weekend they've been there and I'm always craving more! For a personal pizza that fills you up and leaves you more than satisfied flavor-wise, I think their prices are more than fair! So I can't say I agree with Adam there! Also, just wanted to point out it does sound like Adam was at the very first opening day, so I think some inconsistencies would be expected at a brand new business. It's too bad he didn't come the week after. That's when I went, and they were serving a chefs creation pizza with a delicious white sauce, beautiful multi colored beets, arugula and garlic infused olive oil pizza- amazing! Their dessert pizza with Nutella, marscarpone cheese, strawberries, bananas, agave nectar and powdered sugar was also to die for. I personally had perfectly charred crust on both of mine! I definitely recommend for everyone to try- so worth the trip to Oella and if you can work in a walk down the trolley trail, even better!

Adam said...

LOL, nothing like pizza to get people questioning each others' knowledge, experience and expectations. I get it, it's cool :) But until I have pies as consistently good as the ones I've had in other cities (notably John Besh's Domenica in New Orleans) I will continue to take a critical eye. Would you expect any less from a pizza lover!

Sounds like I've got to make it back after a month.

tacitus said...

What are the current hours? Saw that it closes at 6pm every day except Wednesday where its 8pm; is this still true. Is it opened on Mondays?

Will give this a shot. But I do wish these "artisan" pizza makers would have an alternative pie with conventional (and slightly more) mozzarella. The sauce and the crust tend to be great, but I tend to get let down by the amount of cheese.