NEW BEDFORD — I can’t count how many times I’ve walked past Brick Pizzeria Napoletana on Union Street.

Living downtown and covering the city for the newspaper, I see the flames from their namesake pizza oven from the sidewalk at least a couple times a week.

That being said, I think I’ve only been inside once.

Fellow Dine Out writer Jerry Boggs found himself in a similar situation, too.

We had both heard of the high bar Brick set in regards to the pizza world, but for whatever reason, it had evaded our taste buds for quite a long time.

We changed that during a mid-week lunch.

The New Bedford location is one of three, with a storefront on Huttleston Avenue in Fairhaven and Brick’s newest restaurant on State Road in Dartmouth. All the restaurants share Brick’s signature sourdough crust and ripping-hot wood-fired ovens which cook the pizzas in less than two minutes.

When we arrived at the New Bedford store that started it all at around 1:30 p.m., the pizza parlor was quite full with at least three families eating pies.

For newcomers (as Jerry and I were), grab a menu after you walk in, place your order up front and then find your seat.

After some careful gameplanning, we landed on two appetizers and two pizzas.

To start, we ordered the focaccia and the meatballs. The focaccia ($3.99) was advertised as wood-fired sourdough with garlic, olive oil and sea salt. The meatballs ($6.49) were home-made and served with marinara.

As for the main course, Jerry chose a “red” pizza (red sauce based) and I elected to go with “white” pizza (no sauce).

Jerry’s choice, the Onion Pancetta ($11.99), came with caramelized onions, prosciutto and ricotta. My buffalo chicken pizza ($10.99) came with ricotta, mozzarella and gorgonzola.

We also considered another red pizza, the No Hawaiian ($10.99) with mozzarella, ham, roasted red peppers and roasted garlic, and a white pizza Carmine ($10.49), which was topped with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, gorgonzola and mozzarella.

After ordering Jerry and I found a booth by the door and reminisce about covering sports in the South. It wasn’t long before the man behind the counter called “Mike!” Our entire order was ready.

There was no size option when ordering the pizzas. They all come in the same size, which is to say they’re personal pizzas. The focaccia actually equaled the size of the pizzas.

Three meatballs were semi-submerged in a small bowl of marinara and they stole the show.

They were some of the best I had ever tasted. At first, I thought the sauce was adding layers of flavors, but it was all the meatball.

There was a hint of spice that really took the appetizer to another level. It left me turning around to review the menu one more time to see if a meatball sandwich was available. They were that good. They’re a must to start every meal at Brick.

The seasoning on the focaccia made for a very enjoyable appetizer. The garlic stood out on the sourdough but didn’t overwhelm the other ingredients. I wish the seasoning extended to the crust of the focaccia. A dip in the marinara from the matballs helped add some flavor to the crust, but without the meatball, it would have tasted quite plain.

I felt the same issue existed with my pizza. The mix of chicken, buffalo sauce and ricotta blended together to create a wonderful bite. It created some excitement to take another bite and another. However, the crust didn’t provide the same anticipation. I again turned to the marinara sauce to add any kind of flavor.

I really enjoyed the texture of the crust, though. It nicely balanced chewy and crispy. I prefer thicker crust pizzas, but the crust Brick develops works really well.

I’ll let Jerry explain what he thought of his pizza here:

The onion "pancetta" pizza was very good. Though a "red" pizza, the sauce was very light and didn't stand out among the toppings — and that's a good thing.

The onions were nicely caramelized and gave a pleasant sweetness to the pizza. Along with a sprinkling of mozzarella, several large dollops of ricotta were melted into the pie, giving a fresh creaminess to each bite.

The crust was chewy and flavorful. I typically prefer pizzas with a very crispy bottom crust, but even with a softer, crust, Brick gets great char on the bottom and develops plenty of flavor, something you can't say about all pizza crusts.

The toppings were generous and it was easy to get plenty of onions, prosciutto and fresh cheese in every bite.

The prosciutto was my least-favorite part of the pie. The cured meat became a little chewy in the high heat of the oven and lost that wonderful delicate texture that makes it so appetizing. Going in, I thought it might be added after the pizza came out of the oven, and in retrospect, I would have liked to have tried it that way. I think that would be special combination.

Jerry ordered a water and I drank a Coke. Our total bill without tip came to $37.94.



Check out previous Dine Out reviews below