163 Union Street, New Bedford, MA 02470 (map); 508-999-4943; pizzeriabrick.com
Pizza style: Neapolitan
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: Excellent, no fuss, classic Neapolitan pies
Price: Pizzas: $6.99 to $11.99 each
Great pizza can be found in the unlikeliest places, and if there's one man that knows how to follow his nose to great new pizza finds, it's Ed. If he'd heeded Erin Zimmer's call for the best thing he ate in September, he would have written about the insanely delicious Margherita pizza he happened upon in downtown New Bedford, Massachusetts, at a place called Brick Pizzeria Napoletana. Terrific, just chewy and puffy enough sourdough crust, fresh mozzarella, leaves of fresh basil, and San Marzano tomatoes, made in a wood-fired brick oven. All these great ingredients wouldn't mean a thing if the pizzaiolo owner didn't know what he was doing.
Judging from the pies that Ed had and that Meredith and I tasted on a subsequent visit, pizzaiolo John Goggin knows a thing or two about pizza. He started as many piemakers do: in a completely unrelated field. A specialist in the building supply business for over twenty years, it was his son Jeff who started Brick back in 2008 to supplement his coffe shop, The Green Bean, around the corner.
Once ordered, the pies arrive rapid-fire—I timed their bake at just around 90 seconds—puffed with steam, with the kind of dark spots that leopards only dream of. Transplanted to New York, these would be some of the finest pies in the city; The kind of pies folks would elbow, cajole, and wait in line to get. Eating them in the relative quiet of downtown New Bedford at about half the price of a New York pie makes them downright magical.
Not only was the Margherita ($8.59) a flawless execution of the classic, the topped pies showed that equal care was paid to ingredients as technique. A fine Sopressata pie ($9.99) came with thin slices of the hot salumi buried under the cheese, its edges peeking out just enough to crisp, rendering a bit of their fat and saturating the pies with cured pork flavor. Some punchy olive helped to break up the landscape.
A Rucola pie ($11.99) came sauceless, with thin slices of ham added post-cook, and a big handful of arugula dressed just-right.
I'm kicking myself that I didn't order any of the excellent sounding Panuozzi ($7.39 each), wood-fired flatbread sandwiches in flavors like spinach and goat cheese, or roasted chicken with arugula.
If you're on your way to Cape Cod on route 195 it's a five minute detour that's definitely worth it.