In the days after the Pulse massacre, several businesses on Orange Avenue found themselves within a secured perimeter, especially those between the nightclub and Orlando Health, where many of the victims were taken. Brick & Fire was one of those businesses that were essentially cut off and unable to open to the public.
But instead of just shutting down, chef and co-owner Mark Dollard went to his restaurant early that Sunday morning and made about 80 pizzas and put them out free for first responders.
During the current crisis, Dollard is offering a discount on all menu items all day every day for first responders and medical professionals. It’s a nice thing to do considering the restaurant’s proximity to the hospital. It’s likely a go-to for workers anyway, especially since it has such good food.
You may recall that Brick & Fire Pizza and Wine Co. started life at Church Street Station in the space behind Hamburger Mary’s that has not had a successful tenant for years. Dollard and co-owner John Dobson moved Brick & Fire Pizza & Pasta Parlor (losing the Wine Co.) to its current location – a former Pizza Hut hut that was a Moe’s before B&F took it over – in 2008. (Prior to opening the Church Street Station pizzeria, Dollard had a French bistro called Absinthe in the former ice cream parlor, now home to Pepe’s.)
I’d forgotten how good Brick & Fire’s pizza is. But in my Orlando Sentinel review of the restaurant in its original location – a Sunday review, which was rare for a pizzeria – I wrote, “... this is pretty darned good pizza.” (The Sentinel didn’t allow me to write damned.)
One of the pies I liked so much was the four-meat pizza, which is what I ordered on my recent visit for a takeout order.
I requested a large and it was much more than my companion and I could handle. Each slice was loaded with big slices of pepperoni and salami, with capicola ham and Italian sausage, with bits of fennel and a spicy note, completing the quartet. The sauce, which Dollard douses with stout, was subtle. And though the mozzarella covered the perfectly thin crust all the way to the puffy edge, it was not laid on so thickly as to be stringy.
A damn good pie. There, I said it.
In fact, while I was writing this review, I went to the fridge and had a bite of one of the leftover slices. It was every bit as enjoyable. And isn’t that one of the criteria for good pizza, that it’s still good the next day?
We also got an entree portion of the Greek salad, which had fresh baby greens topped with red onions, banana pepper sections, kalamata olives and tomato wedges. It was all sprinkled with a generous amount of crumbled feta cheese with a small container of Greek dressing on the side. The salad was also accompanied by small wedges of flatbread with butter and garlic.
Brick & Fire does not have online ordering, and during popular dining hours you may get a busy signal the first few times you call and be put on hold when you get through. It’s worth the effort.
And the pleasant young woman who took my order cheerfully agreed to take advance payment and asked what car I’d be driving for curbside pickup. Shortly after I arrived, the pizza was brought out and placed in my trunk by another young woman wearing a mask and gloves.
Brick & Fire Pizza & Pasta Parlor is at 1621 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-426-8922.