The Brick

The Brick

If you were a tourist wandering around Bethlehem, your first thought might be that we’re really obsessed with stars. Your second thought, though, might be that there are a lot of Italian eateries and pizza parlors here. From big names at The Sands and mom-and-pop spots in the townships to downtown mainstays and corner carry-outs, there is no shortage of them. Is there room for all of Bethlehem’s Italian-inspired and pizza-proffering restaurants? Well, if they’re anything like The Brick, then by all means, bring it on.

Known for wood-fired brick oven pizzas, The Brick’s vast pizza options range from the traditional—Margherita or Bianca—to the adventurous—Louisville Slugger (BBQ sauce and pulled pork) or Habanero Chicken (grilled chicken, habanero, jalapeño)—to sweet feasts like Cannoli Cream or Nutella. Breakfast lovers can brunch hard on pies like Sunnyside (sunny side up eggs, pepperoni, and bacon) no matter the hour, and all of the pizzas are also available gluten-free.

The mozzarella cheese, which tops most of the pizzas, is freshly made in-house. Knowing this, I knew I had to try the Fried Mozzarella Bites, little nuggets of breaded cheese with housemade marinara sauce for dipping. They were like the grown-up version of mozzarella sticks, with lighter breading that still packed a satisfying crunch with every bite. The mozzarella itself was soft and creamy, which was a luscious and unique change of pace to the super-stringy, over-processed rendition of the dish that you often find at other restaurants.

My favorite appetizer of all time, however, is each and every iteration of cheese and charcuterie plates. The Brick’s Italian Antipasto Board hit the spot, stocked with slices of that milky mozzarella with a balsamic glaze topping. In addition, generous slices of provolone and thick shavings of parmesan were joined by meats like salami and prosciutto. Complete with accents like red peppers, roasted in-house, and a cup of olives, there were plenty of flavor combinations to mix and match across the board.

Meanwhile, I had a difficult time selecting a pizza to try. They come in 12”, 16”, and 18” sizes, but I would’ve loved a tapas-style miniature pizza option so I could sample a fleet of sweet and savory pies. In the end, I settled on the Mediterranean, topped with tomatoes, cherry peppers, fresh basil, sautéed shrimp, and another helping of that delightful mozzarella.

The thin-crust slices were bursting with flavor—the vegetables and shrimp played off each other in perfect harmony. As a spice fiend, which I will never apologize for, I sprinkled crushed red pepper flakes over the pizza—a cardinal sin to some—which set it over the top. From the moment I picked up the slice, it never touched my plate again: I devoured it so quickly that I momentarily considered picking up the hobby of speed-eating, at which I’m still convinced I’d be a formidable opponent if the only thing I had to eat was The Brick’s pizza.

While The Brick has several tempting pasta dishes (including homemade gnocchi), I decided the final dish that I’d sample would be Penne alla Vodka. You can tell a lot about a restaurant from its simplest and most traditional dishes, the same way that you can tell a lot about a chef from how they cook an egg.

For the record, I feel that I should state that I’m not a pasta person. I get the same reaction from people whenever I say this—as if I’ve just casually told them that I like to recreationally burst into kindergarten classrooms and dispel the myth of Santa Claus—but I’m really not. I go out to eat a lot—probably 12 times a month—and I can count the number of times that I’ve ordered a pasta dish in the last year on
one hand.

This Penne alla Vodka, though? The pasta itself was technically perfect—exactly al dente—but the sauce was so creamy and had so much depth that my “I’m just going to have a bite” disclaimer was quickly discarded as I found myself poking my fork back into the bowl again and again and again. I still wouldn’t self-identify as a “pasta person,” but I also wouldn’t hesitate to steal some of a dining companion’s Penne alla Vodka here.

The restaurant itself is a bit of a chameleon, vacillating from as sophisticated to as casual as you’d like. The cozy stone-backed bar could as easily be a date night go-to as it could be an after-work happy hour hot spot; the chic, high-ceiling restaurant could accommodate a celebratory party or a get-together with friends for Sunday brunch over bottomless Mimosas (yes, that’s a thing here). Perhaps the spot’s best feature, especially during this time of the year, is its outdoor patio. It’s set back from busy East Broad Street for a little more quiet and privacy, but still offers downtown vibes and breezy, leisurely dining.

My parting advice to you is to save room for the Cannoli. Don’t ask questions, don’t second guess yourself—just order it, sit back, and enjoy.

The Brick
1 W Broad St, Ste 101

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