It’s always a good sign when you pull up to a restaurant on a Monday night and there isn’t a free spot in the parking lot. Such was the case during our visit to the newly opened Brick & Brew tavern.
This spacious, two-story structure features a pizzeria restaurant on the main level, with bar seating downstairs. Industrial, modern touches, like corrugated tin walls and white subway tile surrounding the busy wood-fired pizza oven, combined with rough-hewn wood floors and sliding barn doors, give the casual spot a hip vibe.
Of course, the 10-inch pies anchor the menu with 15 specialty selections and a create-your-own option. Our Chica Bella white pizza, layering mozzarella, ricotta, arugula and a pinch of lemon was a great blend of thin, crispy crust and fresh flavor, although a little more ample pinch of citrus could have added a bit more pizzazz.
There are also plenty of appetizers, like four huge shrimp, mozzarella and roasted peppers each wrapped with prosciutto and strips of pastry, as well as soups and salads.
The crispy cauliflower salad was big enough for a meal in itself, layering greens with ribbons of carrot, slivers of red onion, slices of hard-cooked egg, a good portion of chopped tomato, a generous crumble of blue cheese and three big cauliflower patties with deeply-bronzed crusts.
Pasta and classic Italian dishes headline the entrees with everything from Alfredo to Putanesca, but there are also plenty of surprises. Unfortunately, the huge bone-in pork chop stuffed with spinach, roasted peppers, bacon and Romano looked mouth-watering smothered in herb gravy and sitting atop a fluffy mountain of mashed potatoes, but upon cutting into it, we were unpleasantly surprised that the meat was raw in the center. To the credit of our extremely friendly waitress, they quickly made right on the mistake and a more well-done version of the delicious dish was at the table in minutes, along with an offer of free dessert to compensate.
We decided Italian Tiramisu would an appropriate finale. The soft layers of sponge cake and airy mascarpone cream had a sublime texture, but I would have preferred a heavier hand with the espresso flavor.
Brick & Brew, 27 Route 23, Franklin, 973-864-2120, facebook.com/brick-brew. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.Click here to leave a comment