Finding a Downtown lunch in Milwaukee for under five bucks has historically been a struggle, but Brick 3 Pizza, 1107 Old World 3rd St., not only gets the concept of a good, cheap and quick lunch away in their matchbook-sized location, they deliver it -- curbside or right to your home or office.
OK, so you've gotta place at least a $10 order to get the delivery for free (otherwise a $3 delivery charge applies) but with pizzas and sandwiches this good, you'll have no trouble finding someone else to order with you.
The tiny restaurant, former home to The African Hut, offers up a smorgasbord of pizza selections daily with toppings ranging from staples like pepperoni and sausage to lasagna to baked potato, a couple sandwiches and salads, and a smattering of desserts.
Brick 3 touts "authentic New York style pizzas," and the claim is not without merit. A medium-thick-thin crust that slightly bubbles up and gains momentum as it gets to the outer edges is covered generously with a not sweet, not bitter red sauce, and layered with ingredients that give a new definition to fresh. The pizza is placed whole into one of several large deck ovens, then pulled out to stand displayed with its counterparts while people wait on line to order it. When a slice is called for, it is placed back in the deck oven for a quick reheat and crisp, and then served up in a matter of minutes, hot, fresh and delicious.
Basil has never been so green on a pizza, nor bacon so delicious. A caprese slice ($4.95 for a slice, $33.50 for a 20-inch round) came loaded with tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, a generous offering of garlic and sliced green olives for mouth watering results.
BBQ chicken and bacon ($4.50 for a slice, $27.50 for a 20-inch round) and pepperoni and sausage ($4.50 for a slice, $24.50 for a 20-inch round) made a fabulous, and delightfully messy lunch; and yet both drizzled just enough grease to make me understand why Brick 3 would want to stay open until 4 a.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays -- either would pose as the perfect slice of post-intoxicant refuge.
Surprisingly amazing, too, was a simple chicken parmigiana sandwich ($6.95) with fries ($3). The sandwich was basic and just plain excellent. Bite size slices of slightly breaded chicken found themselves swimming in red sauce and layered with mozzarella cheese. The submarine-style bun was toasted quickly in the pizza ovens for a crisp on the outside, light on the inside texture that made the sandwich a joy to eat. The only problem was that the sandwich was so big, I could only eat a handful of my crisp and golden fries, which come in a serving large enough to share with two or three people to begin with.
Brick 3 has already cultivated a dedicated following, which makes ordering a bit traumatic for newbies during the busy lunch hour. As one of my dining companions discovered, you are best to admire the lovely pizzas from afar and make a final decision prior to stepping on line. In drill sergeant like fashion, the server behind the pizza counter goes down the line, calling for each order and tossing the chosen slices into the oven on cue. If you don't know what you want, or you sputter, you're best to let them go on to the next person or feel like a fool.
Not that the staff brings this upon you, because everyone at Brick 3 is more than happy to assist with anything you may need, and the counter service at both visits was friendly and welcoming.
On one visit, they were concurrently working on five take away orders and a line full of customers, but still took the time to answer my query about a lovely light green colored pizza that made my mouth water just looking at it. "Pesto chicken."
I am hoping to sample it sometime in the very near future, because, of all the recent cheap dining options cropping up as of late, Brick 3 is my favorite. The food is great, the concept is spot on and, oh yes, they deliver.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.