Editor's note. Brick Oven Milano closed in October 2013; it will not be missed.
Brick Oven is a mini-chain of restaurants in Milan started in 1997, and in late 2012 they took over the tricky Stamford Brook site that was previously home to Bardolino, and before that the dismal Frankies. The site is quite large, easily sitting 80 diners and has a nice little garden terrace, but has proved a difficult one commercially. Even when they had a very good chef operating here when the site was running as Pug some years ago, the somewhat awkward location struggled to attract customers. There is a childrens play area as well as the main dining area, astutely targeting local families.
The new menu was quite lengthy, offering not just a range of pizzas but also pasta dishes, grilled meats, tuna steak at £24 and even burgers too. Despite the name of the restaurant, the pizza oven looked distinctly like a regular modern gas-oven. The wine list ranged in price from £15 to £36, with examples such as Porters Mill Station Chenin Blanc Tulbagh 2011 at £17.50 for a wine that you can find in the high street for around £7, and Paulettes Polish Hill River Riesling 2010 at £32 for a wine that retails at £15. Asahi beer was £4 a bottle.
Millefoglie (£8) was a salad of green leaves with a little layered pile of Mozzarella cheese with tomato and aubergine. The leaves were fresh enough and dressed, the vegetables fairly tasteless, the cheese quite reasonable. Harmless enough (maybe 10/20). Pea soup (£7) with croutons tasted as if the peas the soup was made from were tinned, and lacked depth of flavour (9/20).
The pizzas themselves had a very thin crust, as is the style of the pizzas in Milan, and for the diavola pizza (£10.50) the meat was added cold at the table rather than being cooked in the oven, which I am not sure was a great idea. The thin oval pizza base quickly lost heat but was decent enough, but in all honesty was this any better than a pizza from Pizza Express? I was unconvinced (9/20).
Service was friendly, if not ultra efficient, but this is a casual eatery so one does not expect too much. The bill came to £19 a head with just beer to drink and one pizza generously comped without our request due to a problem with it initially. Overall this was a harmless enough local place, but with the manifestly superior and cheaper Franco Manca just down the road it is hard to imagine who is going to rationally choose this place over the local competition.