Nothing goes quite as well with a night out at the theater than a good meal preceding it.
While my brother and I were not attending a show at The Community Theatre, we likely were in the company of several that were when we, and a friend, sat down for dinner at Brick Oven of Morristown.
Brick Oven is one of those restaurants that is immediately apparent when one enters town. It's right there next to the theater and, unless the eventual opening of Don's Burgers does not drown it out, will remain a prominent fixture for hungry theatergoers.
Why? I was just so pleasantly surprised at how good everything was. From the attentive but uncloying service, to the atmosphere, to the convenient location, to the BYOB status to, ultimately and most importantly, the food.
As with any Italian restaurant, we started off with a basket of warm bread, with an accompanying side of olive oil. But, this olive oil was even more a treat, as it featured chopped olives, some parmesan and a little garlic. I was literally scooping some of the bowl's contents onto my bread.
Our party started with a Caprese appetizer, which showed the only weak point of the meal (though quite a conspicuous one). A generous plate of fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and beefsteak tomatoes atop fresh arugala and chopped parsley, it was a good app.
However, in September, in New Jersey, why are we getting tomatoes as stiff and flavorless as these? This common issue was, however, quickly forgotten as our entrees were placed before us.
My brother and friend both got personal pizzas–he a sausage pizza, she one with olives, capers and anchovies. I opted for one of the specials our knowledgable waitress read off–chicken stuffed with brocolli rabe, topped with mozzarella, sitting in a marsala wine and mushroom sauce.
Usually, I am all for sharing, but upon my first bite, I felt this may be a hard sell. If you have read "Morristown Munchies" reviews in the past, you should know I try to be as even-handed as possible. I have tried not to be overly critical, or overly praise anything I've eaten. But, without question, this has to be one of the best chicken dishes I have ever eaten.
First, I must speak to the marsala wine sauce. Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite Italian dishes. Done properly–with chicken that is not too dry or rubbery, with a sauce that is flavorful without being overpowering–it is an exceptional treat. The sauce here, equal parts salty, savory, a little sweet and umami, was like a blanket of "yow, that's good" over chicken that was moist and pared brilliantly with the bitterness of brocolli rabe.
Can you tell I'm in love? My brother and friend's pizzas also were good, though not nearly to the level of the chicken. The sausage pizza was a more traditional thin-crust pizza, rich with flavor. The olive, caper and anchovy pizza had a very pleasant punch of fishiness and saltiness (maybe just a little too salty if you took a whole anchovy in one bite) that was just different enough from what one might usually expect from their pizza.
When I first moved to Morristown over a year ago, one of the first restaurants that stood out was Brick Oven of Morristown. And, yet, until now I had no idea why it was so popular with the theater crowd. It's not only conveniently located, it's excellent.