It was rather slow at Bricco in Westmont when I arrived around 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. There were only three couples dining at the cluster of booths off to the side, and I could see that the long table in the center of the restaurant was on reserve.
I was seated at one of the booths–just me, my camera, and appetite.
A server then came to greet me. “Hi, I’m Philly and I will be taking care of you,” he said.
I chuckled at his name. “Philly, like the city?” I asked, pointing to the left as if to symbolize the direction of the city.
“Yes, the city,” he replied with a smirk.
“What can I get for you?” Such a simple question, but I wanted everything so I had no answer to give.
He saw the uncertainty on my face and began breaking down the appetizers. “My favorite appetizer would have to be the mozzarella fritti. The most popular is probably the pesto arancini,” he said.
Still dazed and confused, I went against his recommendations (such a rebel) and got the coal fired rosemary oil wings. I mean, how can you go wrong with wings?
“Good choice,” he said. Philly also began to explain all of the fresh ingredients that made their pizzas so great. He was knowledgeable, passionate and pretty convincing. Per his suggestion,I kept it traditional and ordered my all time favorite pie, the margherita.
With a nod and a wink, Philly hurriedly placed my order. Shortly thereafter, the madness began.
About five minutes later, an influx of people stormed in, heading straight for the long reserved table. Couple after couple, child after child, laughing, screaming and skipping their way to the middle of the restaurant. There were numerous bottles of wine and beer waiting for their enjoyment. They were celebrating some sort of religious achievement and there I was with camera and appetite, watching it all unfold.
I wanted to pick Philly’s brain a little more about the establishment and his roll within the company, but he was busy uncorking wine bottles and figuring out seating arrangements.
I watched as he raced from the kitchen to the table, from the table to the back, and from the back to the front.
Somewhere in between serving the army their antipasto and drinks, Philly brought my food out. I was pretty impressed with the presentation.
To begin, the wings had a nice crispy char. They weren’t super crunchy, but did have a nice juicy tenderness. The rosemary oil provided a great herby bite. I will say that the actual meat lacked in flavor. A simple marinade or brine could have done them some justice. I also found the onions on top to be burnt, not charred. I proceeded to push the onions to the side, as I found them inedible.
On to my beautiful pizza. It was thin, the way I craved, and sported the joyful colors of Christmas. I took one of the six slices and shoved it in far enough to sink my teeth straight into the middle. The tomato sauce was so fresh and sweet, I almost wished I ordered a tomato pie. The mozzarella was also fresh, super creamy and delicate. There is a major difference between fresh and store bought mozzarella and while I think both serve a purpose, fresh is always better when talking pizza. The stimulating basil leaves gave such an aromatic bite. Hmm hmm hmm. What sealed the deal for me was the crispy cracker-like crust. Heaven I tell ya, heaven.
I stuffed my face for a bit before looking up and seeing Philly still tending to hungry patrons, in a calm and collected manner.
It’s amazing how the quaint space went from quiet and contained to jumping with laughter and conversation.
Finally, Philly found time to venture back over and ask how the food was. “Wonderful,” I replied, as he gave his characteristic smirk, then turning around to serve another antipasto.
Bricco’s pizza was legit. I plan to return and try Philly’s appetizer recommendations as well as a short rib pizza I was tempted to order.
I left quietly while the gang continued their “turn up.” I walked out into the cold but bright day, happy and full. The perfect way to do a Sunday if you ask me.