A Taste of ItalyInside Feature
February 18, 2019
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
When they opened Brick Fire Tavern just about two years ago, Matthew Resich and his partner, founder Inthira Marks, brought something quite unique to our little island.
This fresh Chinatown restaurant serves pizza that might just be better than any you’ve ever tasted, unless you’ve spent some time eating your way through Italy.
Brick Fire Tavern’s pies are certainly some of the most authentic. The restaurant has earned Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certification from the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, established 35 years ago in Naples by a group determined to cultivate the art of Neapolitan pizza. To qualify for VPN certification, pizzerias must adhere to strict rules that govern everything from the flour, water and salt used in their dough to oven temperature and cooking time.
In 2015, Resich and Marks spent two months in Naples, learning how to make authentic Neapolitan pies with famed pizzaiolo (a man who makes pizza) chef Enzo Coccia.
“We ate pizza every single day, sometimes three times a day,” Resich notes.
They returned to Honolulu with an intimate knowledge of Neapolitan pizza and a custom-built oven, imported at great expense. Manned by Resich and his fellow pizzaiolos, Raul Bernal and James Orlando, the custom oven cooks pizzas at 900 degrees in about 90 seconds.
And oh, those pizzas! It’s really hard to choose just one. Resich himself recommends The Miss-Ins ($18), with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, soppressata, Kalamata olives, mushrooms and onions.
“This one is special to us,” he says.
“It’s named after Inthira, and it’s one of her favorite flavor combinations. If you take a bite and close your eyes, you will feel like you are in Italy.”
Brick Fire Tavern’s gorgeous menu also includes a few authentic appetizers inspired by local ingredients, such as Prosciutto e Pineapple ($5). Substituting sweet Maui Gold pineapple for traditional melon, this dish brilliantly marries sweet and savory with mint oil and balsamic glaze. For $13, Orchard Salad is a seasonal delight that currently features Fuji apples, candied walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese.
“We change the fruit and some of the elements based on the season, from strawberry and balsamic in the summer to dried cranberry and pumpkin seeds in the winter,” Resich says.
Additionally, Brick Fire Tavern’s happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, offers three hours of wonderful food and drink items. The pizzeria is also introducing a new wine club with daily specials for members, including 50 percent off wines on “Wino Wednesdays.”