Brick Oven Serves Up Simple Food Perfect for Date or Family
Quimby Street restaurant offers variety of Italian dishes.
In a restaurant scene where you need a magnifying glass and an encyclopedia to even make your way through the appetizers, The Brick Oven on Quimby Street is refreshing. Like the menu, the individual dishes don't overwhelm the senses with a "what is that?", but the few ingredients in each dish are carefully chosen and proportioned.
The inside is somewhat narrow and split into one floor and one balcony level, fitting for larger parties and more intimate arrangements, respectively. And while the entire scene is well-lit, it is balanced perfectly by the dark woods of the furniture. Finally, the concealed fire at the heart of the restaurant's namesake draws attention from all seats despite its corner location. Aesthetically, The Brick Oven is built for autumn or winter.
To start, The Brick Oven offers the simple Italian small dishes: calamari, focaccia, broccoli rabe and bruscetta. However, when we tried to order the bruscetta, our waiter informed us that due to a large lunch crowd, the restaurant was out of bread. Out of bread? Is that so different from a Chinese restaurant being out of rice or a house without a roof? No, it's not, but the meal must move on. And for all it's worth, the fact that the chef didn't just cut up some of the basket bread (which was served piping hot) implies something objectively positive.
We settled on the broccoli rabe, a heaping dish that tasted harsh in the way broccoli rabe should and achieved a desirable texture. Burnt garlic pleasantly hid in the stack, and it was hard to decide whether the heads or the stalks were better.
Le Paste menu was not extensive, but the dishes touched most corners of Italian pasta cuisine. The fusilli con tacchino appeared as a beautiful dish of lightly oiled and flawlessly cooked pasta and came with turkey sausage. Although the turkey was too ground up to retain its sausage identity, it appeared in every bite and somehow made me glad it was turkey sausage and not just sausage: a rare feat. A taste of fennel permeated every bite, but lost its thrill by the end of the dish. The same broccoli rabe we started with was featured as well; it was disappointing but more of an error in ordering. The pine nuts didn't make an impression on the dish and it was a surprise to find out they were present.
Most of the protein main courses focused on chicken and the standard Italian offerings (marsala, parmigiano, franchaise, balsamic). The pollo sorrentino was a pleasant curiosity: the eggplant in the dish hid (both figuratively and literally) the chicken. The chicken cutlets covered in mozzarella were savory (although a little tough), but the eggplant was the real winner of the dish. The eggplant – served on top of the chicken, as usual in pollo sorrentino – cut like butter and tasted as close to comfort food as a substantial entrée can. The sauce blended in faultlessly with the dish and the blanket of mozzarella was cooked very well, with dark boils here and there and an unwillingness to come cleanly off the chicken and eggplant.
When we found out bruscetta was no longer offered for the night, we were skeptical. However, it's somehow fitting that removing an Italian staple from The Brick Oven's already humble arsenal doesn't matter. The restaurant simply serves simple food effortlessly; it's worth the trip, whether with a date or the whole family.