Bricks pizza opens in Hemingway District

Restaurant also plans food truck with wood-fired oven

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Parkers, are you ready for some pizza?

Well, there's a new joint in town where the pizza is made fresh in wood-fired ovens, but that's just a small part of what you'll find at Bricks Wood-Fired Pizza Café, 128 N. Oak Park Ave.

In addition to more than a dozen 12-inch specialty pizzas – customers also have the option of building their own pizza – the restaurant offers sandwiches, soup, salads and a selection of beer and wine.

For Bricks co-owner Ric Gruber Jr., the business is a passion and for him and his family. He noted during a tour on opening day that his brother's architecture company, Barker Nestor Inc., designed the restaurant.

He said that Barker Nestor also designed the Oak Park restaurants Bar Louie, 1122 Lake St., and Firecakes Donuts, 104 N. Maple Ave.

"We are incredibly passionate about pizza; this is not just a business or an investment. This is our lives; we live, eat and breathe pizza," he said. "So everything we do here is done with an incredible amount of care and thought."

Gruber noted that the front windows to the restaurant are retractable and will make Bricks open-air during the warm months.

"This summer and this spring when it warms up, we're going to have open-air seating in the front of the restaurant … and you'll be able to see [Scoville Park] right from the windows, so that's really nice," he said. 

He said the Oak Park Bricks offers seating for roughly 54 people. 

"It's one of our largest dining rooms," he said.

It's the seventh restaurant for Bricks, but Gruber said they're not limiting the restaurant to its storefront location. Other Bricks restaurants are located in the west and northwest suburbs.

"Right now we're building a pizza truck," he said, adding that the mobile unit should be ready at the end of April. "We have a 20-foot shipping container that's going to go on top of a flatbed truck that's being built out with one of those [wood-fired] ovens in it.

Gruber said the food truck can be hired for private events and can also handle overflow at the restaurant for people who just want to be outside.

"We'll be able to serve gelato, Italian ice and make hot, fresh pizzas right out of our truck," he said.

The wood-fired ovens are, perhaps, the secret sauce to Bricks' success. 

"This is the oldest way known to man to cook – by fire," Gruber said. "It's still, in our mind, the best way to cook."

He noted that the oven gets so hot that the pizza cooks in about 90 seconds. 

"You have speed, you have efficiency and you have skill that go into it," he said. "In a conventional oven you're not going to get any flavor from the actual oven that you're using. You only going to get that from a wood-burning or coal-fired oven."

He said the embers from the oak used to power the oven impart flavor.

"You will get taste from the oak embers that will be infused in the brick of the floor of the oven and coming off the fire every day," he said.

Bricks opens at 11 a.m. six days a week and at noon on Sunday. The restaurant closes at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 8 p.m. on Sunday. 

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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