Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brickhouse Bar and Grill

Brickhouse Bar and Grill
Stamford, CT

Taps: Anchor Steam, Bass Ale, Blue Moon, Bud Lite, Miller Lite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Palm, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Seasonal, Stella Artois, Stone IPA.

Have you ever taken a step back and looked at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s acting career? What a crap sandwich pu-pu platter of movies; “Gridiron Gang.” “The Scorpion King.” “The Tooth Fairy.” “Race to Witch Mountain.” you get the drift.

I mean, this guy is THE ROCK! The creator and sole proprietor of the People’s Elbow. The man who encourages you to shove it up your roodie-poo candy ass. He obviously wanted to be the next Stallone or Schwarzenegger; but with all the corny kids movie’s he’s done, he may as well join the Wiggles. So why would the People’s Champ keep signing up for these abominations?

Money. The same thing that keeps us going back to Brickhouse.

What can you say about Brickhouse? It’s always overcrowded. The music is about 50% higher than it ever should be. You’re ALWAYS in somebody’s way. Cigarette smoke whips through the corridors like a wind tunnel. They serve shots in those little plastic lids that you use to drink your Robitussin. But who the hell are we to pass up $5 Miller Lite pitchers and 25 cent wings on Wednesdays? Much like The Rock, we’ll all take a bit of crap if the money’s right. And on Brickhouse Wednesdays, the money is right.

This past Wednesday marked the latest chapter in our storied relationship with Brickhouse. I hadn’t been since October, and I was ready to step back in the ring. I got to the bar before anybody else, so I grabbed the biggest table available…a table for four.

Now, Brickhouse features a bizarre barrier between the bar and the tables, meaning that on either side of the barrier [EDIT: This barrier is required by law for bars], you have approximately 2 feet of room to walk. There are only so many seats at the bar, and no table can accommodate more than 4 people, so what you get is a ton of spillover into the aforementioned 2-foot walkway. You can’t possibly not be in the way. The wait staff hates you, and you can tell. If you want to go to the bathroom, you have to ask a dozen or so people to move, which means screaming in their ear due to “Tik Tok” blaring at an unnecessary volume from the speakers above.

The wings are nice and flavorful, with a bunch of different sauce options (not that I ever get anything other than Buffalo), and you find yourself ordering round after round of pitchers because they’re so beautifully affordable. But once you’ve reached your fill, you just want to go. Nothing more to see here. On this night, we stayed a while.

After I lost my voice an hour into our stay at Brickhouse, I just stopped talking to people. I literally ignored my friends and watched some lopsided college hoops game. Having a conversation takes too much effort in Brickhouse. You know when you tell a joke, and someone says “what?” so you repeat it, they say “what?” again, and you say nevermind, because now the joke has been overanticipated and is destined to fail? That’s Brickhouse.

But again. $5 Miller Lite pitchers. 25 cent wings. It’s just too good to pass up.

If anyone from Brickhouse ever reads this, please: Turn down the music. Take down the barrier. It will improve the bar ten-fold. Until then, you simply can’t justify going unless it’s a Wednesday.

But even then, you don’t feel great about yourself. You feel like you’re better than this. You’re only in it for the money. But really: who could pass up such a good deal?

Suddenly, it dawns on you. You can smell what the Rock is cookin’.


Go to to get a $10 dollar gift certificate for 80 cents using coupon code INDULGE (expired - but search google for one).

Brick House Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Amore Restaurant

Stamford, CT

We as Americans are slaves to hyperbole. Nothing gets us quite so riled up as arguments like “who’s the best quarterback,” “what’s the greatest movie of all time,” or “what’s the worst song ever written?” We love “bests” and “worsts.” They give us the opportunity to be bold. For instance, if I say Shawshank Redemption is a good movie, you probably don’t care. If I say Shawshank Redemption is the best movie of all time, you definitely care. You have an opinion. You’re going to tell me I’m an asshole and that “Gladiator” is the best movie of all time. Or “Pulp Fiction.” Or “Showgirls.” Okay, probably not that. Even Kyle will disagree with my anointment of Shawshank as GOAT (Greatest of All Time, acronym n00b), but that’s the beauty of hyperbole. It stimulates conversation, and even prompts convoluted analogies about movies on a blog that deals with the subject of food and beer.

…Which finally brings us to our point. Our friends over at Stamford Pizza Tour, upon running the gauntlet of every pizza establishment Stamford has to offer, crowned Amore Pizza as Stamford’s finest pie. Hyperbole. They came right out and said it. “The best.” And that got Kyle and I fired up. When someone says something’s “the best,” you’ve got to try it. The curiosity is enormous. And so on Saturday night, we did.

Kyle and I walk into Amore with our girlfriends, and immediately find it far more of an “Italian Restaurant” than a “pizza joint.” It was quiet and sparsely populated, and I found myself with the sudden urge to check the bathroom for a revolver stashed in a wooden flush-box. The bathroom had no flush-box. I’m marking off points for that. There were also little certificates and newspaper clippings in various spots celebrating SPT’s “Best Pizza” proclamation. Clearly, Food Plus Beer has work to do in terms of notoriety.

The service was warm and friendly, with the waitress playfully poking fun at my pained attempts to pronounce Italian words like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds, but without the Southern Drawl. We ordered the Scarpariello pizza, (topped with chicken, sausage, garlic, hot and sweet peppers, and tomato) and the Mare & Monte pizza, (topped with shrimp, scallops, calamari and mushrooms). They were both very flavorful, with deliciously tangy tomato sauce, good balance with the toppings, and enough of an ass-kicking with the hot peppers (important).

The delicious Mare & Monte pizza.

But here is what happens in these situations. You see, Kyle and I are members of what you’d call Stamford’s “Colony Army.” Colony Grill has been our favorite pizza for approximately 40 years. It is insanely difficult to judge new pizzas objectively; because the first place we go in our minds every single time is “is this pizza better than Colony?” And Colony pizza is so unique, it’s almost apples and oranges to make the comparison.

So here we are in Michael Corleone land, enjoying an incredibly tasty pizza, but both of us are deciding in our minds that it’s not enough to dethrone Colony. I can see it in Kyle’s eyes. And then he says it, which made me feel weird for having gazed into his eyes for interpretation. It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t quite as filling as we would have hoped…it made a late night McDonald’s run necessary and my arteries take issue with that.

So for all its hyperbole (which sounds suspiciously like what you’d call the Superbowl of a competing football league), where does Amore stand? The pizza was extremely good, but I can’t in good conscience allow it to knock off the mighty Colony. It was also a little pricey, a little undersized, and a little bit out of the way. Those caveats keep it from ranking higher in the Pantheon of Stamford’s pizzas. I’d rather walk around the corner from my house to Emilia’s, and have the most inexplicably affordable pizza in town, or go downtown to Remo’s, which features a pie similarly delicious to Amore but with larger portions for the price.

Plus, we didn’t even see a beer list. Scary stuff.

They call the place Amore, and indeed, it was love at first bite. One of the best pizzas in Stamford for sure – but not the best.

Hyperbole debunked.


Amore Restaurant on Urbanspoon