CLIFTON PARK Remember Mama’s Family Restaurant? It was a longtime presence here, ending a nearly quarter-century run in 2005. When the Arizona Pizza property became available, Mama came back with a new name, Brick House Pizza & Grille. We loved the old Mama’s, so it’s good to see them again.
My own mom noticed that the place looked a lot like Arizona Pizza, with the booths, high tables and multiple television screens. Like its predecessor, Brick House Pizza & Grille shows lots of sports. Each booth, for example, still has its own personal flat screen TV. Mom switched it off. Also, there’s Lotto. So it doesn’t feel like the cozy, tightly packed dining room of the old Mama’s.
Brick House Pizza & Grille
WHERE: 5 Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park. 383-2222, brickhousepizzaandgrill.com
WHEN: Sunday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
HOW MUCH: $30.27, with two sodas, tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express.
We went for a late lunch on a weekday, and although a banner draped across the windows on the Clifton Country Road side of the building advertised “11 to 2 Buffet” and “Happy Hour,” we didn’t see a buffet. We did have a view of the new stone-clad Olive Garden across the street, bereft of vegetation and marooned in asphalt. It was packed. That’s the way of the world in the restaurant business.
Brick House has a stone pizza oven and the menu features mostly Italian fare, although appetizers cover all the bases: wings, quesadillas, potato skins. There’s a good selection of hot and cold sandwiches and wraps, but the menu shines with the selection of Italian entrees: two veal dishes, scampi, stuffed shells, eggplant parmesan, plus build-your-own pasta dishes. Prices are reasonable; chicken parm is $14.99, and comes with salad, bread and pasta or potato and vegetable.
Our server brought out big drinks, diet soda for me and unsweetened iced tea for Mom ($2.59 each) and we made our selections. We checked out the other patrons: two guys watching sports at the bar, small groups at two other tables.
I can tell you that the wood-fired pizza is very good. There’s also New-York style pizza, and if you can’t decide, there’s a primer on the menu that tells the difference. I was swayed by the description of high-heat cooking over white oak, as opposed to the New York pizza with the fuller, more dense crust. My extra cheese pizza ($8.58) was delicious. I liked the uneven, thick and crispy crust and the abundance of fresh-tasting, oregano-scented sauce. The cheese was plentiful and made long strings as I lifted the first slice from the pan. “That’s good pizza,” said Mom, after trying some.
Mom had the Buffalo chicken grinder ($7.99). The crunchy-crusted sub roll tasted freshly made, and Mom liked the flavor of the sauce, noting that it had the slight kick of a perfect medium hot. The blue cheese on the side with carrots and celery got kudos as well. “It’s chock full of cheese,” she said.
Mom passed over a sauce-soaked piece of roll, with a vinegary aroma that tingled my nose and made my eyes water just a bit. It made me wish I’d ordered it instead.
The french fries that came with the sandwich were fresh from the fryer, salty and good. We showed great restraint in leaving a few on the plate. I took home half the pizza, which made a very good lunch the next day. Mom looked down at her near-empty plate and said, “You expect it to be good, but you don’t expect it to be special.” But it was, a nice surprise.
The pleasant server, who was attentive but not overly so, brought us the tab: $30.27 with two sodas, tax and tip. Next time you’re on Clifton Country road and headed for Italian food, think twice before turning on your directional signal. I think you’ll like Brick House Pizza & Grille.