Restaurant Review: Yellow Brick Pizza
If the excellent Yellow Brick Pizza got off to a rocky start service-wise when it opened last winter, it's understandable for a flurry of reasons. Chiefly, the young owners were first-timers and the Olde Towne East area where they set up shop was so starved for a good pizzeria with a cheerful ambience that Yellow Brick was frequently slammed. But while the wait for a pie back then could border on the ridiculous, the pizzas themselves were pretty terrific.
Now that things have cooled off a bit, Yellow Brick seems to have found a smoother service groove. Team that up with those rockin' pizzas, a wonderful beer list plus a huge sense of humor, and you have one of the most fun pizzerias in town.
I really like Yellow Brick's embrace of the classic, the silly and the edgy. For instance, the stout brick building which houses it has kept its vestigial OTE Coin Laundry sign outside, and inside there's a handsome, highly polished bar with 16 taps streaming world-class suds.
But there's also posters and pictures of everyone from Charles Barkley to Charles Bronson, from Willie Nelson to anti-comic Neil Hamburger, from the Three Stooges to Ralph Steadman's Hunter S. Thompson illustrations. And over the sound system, it's likely a dark Tom Waits growler will segue into a goofy Doobie Brothers tune.
This sense of measured playfulness is reflected on the menu. There, Yellow Brick offers over 20 specialty pizzas (or you can design your own) that vary from the straightforward to the wacky (but delicious).
First a few words on Yellow Brick's few starters. The Side Salad ($3.50) might be served in a to-go box, but it's much better and fresher than you'd expect from a pizza joint (try the mustardy balsamic basil dressing).
And the good wings (six for $6) are distinguished by having never gurgled in oil -- they're efficiently baked instead. I also liked the Kenny "Pizza" Loggins (three for $7) -- hot-dog-bun-sized homemade pizza rolls.
But of course it's all about the 'zas. Of utmost importance for any pizza is the crust, and Yellow Brick's handmade version is crispy yet chewy, not too thick or too thin, and thus right up there with some of the best around.
Traditionalists might want to stick with the crowd-pleasing Classico (fennel-seeded sausage, decent pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, green peppers and tangy, oregano-scented red sauce).
More adventuresome types might branch out into these recommended and inspired combos: Charles's Red Hot Pie (a semi-brilliant hybrid of wings and pizza); Pico Blvd. (pizza given the breakfast burrito treatment -- believe me, it absolutely works); the Big Sur (so-so pesto, chicken, marinated artichoke hearts, red onions and feta cheese add up to more than the sum of their salty parts).
Pies start at $8 for a small and go up to $21.50 for a (feeds four to five) large. The fun starts at happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when beers are half priced) and continues all evening.
Yellow Brick Pizza
892 Oak St., Olde Towne East
Price: $ (up to $10 per person)
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-12 p.m. Friday-Saturday