Restaurant Review: Dinner at Brick Oven and Dessert at Bovella's

Thursday was a beautiful evening and I managed to leave work at a reasonable time. Although we were originally planning to cook at home, we made a swift decision to instead get a bottle of good white wine from the fridge and to walk into Westfield for dinner al fresco.
Originally, we were targeting Xocolatz were we had several real good dinners before. Unfortunately, they had only two table outside that were already taken. Because of shops being open till 8:00 PM they couldn't place some more tables in front of the store next door which they usually do. So we checked out the other places in the area and apparently, we were not the only people that had the idea to have dinner in downtown Westfield that evening.

At The Brick Oven we just managed to find one available table outside. The first time we visited the Brick Oven was about 6 years ago when we had justed moved to Westfield. We assumed that for a restaurant that is called "Brick Oven" the pizza is something special. We were a bit disappointed as the pizza was not the style we liked. In addition, we were low on cash and were a bit annoyed when we learned that they only took Amex and not Visa/MC. So based on that experience we only came back a few years later with some friends and we had pretty good pasta dishes and salads than. So till now it was not really a favorite place of ours. But that may have changed tonight.

They still don't accept Visa/MC and really don't understand why that is. I heard that the cut that Amex takes from the merchant is actually higher than for Visa/MC, so they shouldn't have any incentive to only take Amex. For me this is clearly an annoyance, but that may be different for people that prefer Amex.
We saw the party at the neighborhing table enjoying a really interesting looking spinch appetizer. It didn't take a lot of convincing by our waiter to make us order it.
This warm appetizer for two is a combination of sauteed spinach, portobello mushrooms, roasted smoked salmon served in a poppy seed sauce. We never had this combination before and we were delighted about this innovative, flavorful and delicious dish. The individual ingredients clearly fit together very well and the combination leads to something that is more than the sum of its parts. The idea of roasting smoked salmon is pretty cool. The distinct flavor of smoked salmon is not only retained but in my opinion enhanced and the texture is a bit crisper which is a nice counter point to the softer spinach and mushroom.
As a second course we ordered a the Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese salad to share. We liked the proactive customer service of already putting the salad on two smaller plates (without an extra charge). The salad again showed an expert combination of ingredients to create something bigger. One thing to improve: The pears were still a little unripe, so that their contribution to the flavor profile was bit underwhelming. Pears at the right maturity had made this an even better dish.
For the third course, we didn't even get there. Originally we were planning to share a pizza. But with the fairly large appetizer portion and the good bread you get with dinner we felt very happy and satisfied after only two courses and we still wanted to have a desert. So unfortunately that also means: No update on the pizza situation at the Brick Oven.

The service was friendly, knowledge, attentive and efficient. Pretty much all you want from a good waiter. The place is BYOB and the Liquor Basket is right next door.

While we were dining Al Madison was playing live music. In an earlier blog, I complained about the live music at Acquaviva Delle Fonti being too much elevator music and my suspicion that it would rather drive away customers than attract them. Now this is very different with Al Madison.
Al is a versatile cover singer with a good repertoire of well known songs (seemingly 60s through 90s with a focus on blues) that are not elevator-style but also not too intense for dinner accompaniment. There was also some engagement between Al and the dining customers and he is taking requests. He was able to create comfortable, relaxing vibe, not an embarressing one. Al is not the best cover musician that I have ever seen, but he is certainly pretty good and one reason why dinner at The Brick Oven becomes more interesting.
He performs there on Thursday nights regularly but sometimes also on weekends. He also mentioned that he performs at the Westfield Farmers Market on Saturdays once in a while.

In summary, The Brick Oven is a pretty good option for an Italian BYOB dinner with innovative, refined food, plenty of outside seating and good service. My only grievance is that they only accept Amex.

How does it compare to other places in Westfield? The other BYOB Italian place is Cosimo. IMHO, The Brick Oven is much classier with a more innovative menu and refined service. Cosimo is more family style with a mostly standard selection of dishes and only a few outside tables. Ferraro's is IMHO only slightly above Cosimo's, they have a license and enough outside seating. The ambiance inside however is a bit basic, cold and loud, so not match for the Brick Oven. Finally, North Side Trattoria is at the same level of cuisine and refinement as The Brick Oven, they do have a license (and a bar) but the outside seating is somewhat limited.

So after leaving The Brick Oven we walked around a bit discussing were we could get some dessert when we remembered that Bovella's is now open late on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We got a very good cappuccino (that is served in an actual china cup) and some goof pastry that we ate at one of the nice tables in front of the store.
I'm really glad that Bovella's made the decision to stay open late. The idea of having dinner at one place, then stroll around a bit and closing the evening with a coffee drink and some pastry at Bovella's is quite appealing. And seemingly we were not the only ones that felt that way. I just wonder if Bovella allows for BYODW (Bring your own Dessert Wine)?

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

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