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Globe North Dining Out

A big-city feel in the suburbs

By Cindy Cantrell
Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2011

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The BrickYard Authentic
Pizzeria and Burger Bar

371 Main St., Woburn
781-935-6699
brickyardbar.com
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 5-10 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 5-11 p.m.
Major credit cards
Handicapped-accessible with indoor elevator to lower-level lounge

About three years ago, Anthony Contarino of New Hampshire was overseeing dinner preparations at TreMonte Restaurant & Bar in Woburn center when Nick and Rocco Leo of Winchester asked to temporarily share his utilities while renovating their nearby Dunkin’ Donuts location on Main Street.

Over subsequent meals and coffees, the three men began strategizing to fill what they saw as an unmet need for traditional Italian-style, thin-crust pizzas, quality burgers, and brews in an atmosphere more reminiscent of downtown Boston than the suburbs.

Open about two months, the partners’ vision-turned-corner-hotspot, BrickYard Authentic Pizzeria and Burger Bar, offers a streamlined selection of salads, sandwiches, torpedos (made of egg roll dough), entrees, prime USDA angus chuck burgers, and nine specialty pizzas made with simple, high-quality ingredients in a 700-degree stone hearth oven.

On a recent Sunday evening, our four-person party was fortunate to get a parking space out front as well as one of the last remaining tables. Once seated, we ordered drinks and two appetizers.

The BrickYard wings ($8.50) were eight average-sized chicken pieces braised in teriyaki and orange juice and then deep-fried. The meat was flavorful and fall-off-the-bone tender.

The chili cheese fries ($7) were thin-cut, unlike the steak fries that are served with the burgers and entrees. Smothered in steaming (but not excessively spicy) chili, cheddar cheese, bacon, and chives with ranch dressing on the side, they were the ideal size for sharing.

From our vantage point facing the open kitchen, we had a perfect view of pizza dough being tossed in the air. The one we ordered, the chicken alfredo pizza ($12), had a surprisingly light garlic cream sauce blended with mozzarella, Romano, and provolone cheeses and topped with tender chunks of floured, sautéed chicken.

Every pizza crust is brushed with olive oil, according to Contarino, and homemade chili oil is available for those desiring an extra kick.

The hand-cut, house marinated turkey tips ($15) were a generous portion of exceptionally juicy chunks of meat flavored with a tomato-based marinade of herbs and seasonings and grilled over an open flame. The side of onion rings (a $1.50 upgrade over rice pilaf) wasn’t available this particular evening, but hot, crisp sweet potato fries (also a $1.50 upgrade) were a welcome substitution. The vegetable of the day, grilled zucchini, retained its flavor and firmness.

Enough onion rings remained as a topping for the hangover helper ($11.50), a half-pound burger cooked precisely to the diner’s medium-well specifications. It was additionally topped with American cheese, crisp applewood-smoked bacon, and a fried egg whose runny yolk added tremendous flavor.

The Santa Fe burger ($11.50) was a half-pound of perfectly cooked medium-plus meat topped with grilled jalapenos, salsa, and pepper jack cheese that fully satisfied our spice-loving diner. All burgers are prepared daily and served on a buttery, grilled brioche roll with a croissant-like texture.

For dessert, we split a tall slice of pleasingly tart key lime pie that had the creamy consistency of cheesecake. The spongy lava cake oozed chocolate that quickly melted the real whipped cream. Other offerings include tiramisu, carrot cake, and cannoli. All desserts are $6.

The modern décor of the 100-seat, ground-floor level is complemented by rounded booths and an upscale bar. The lounge on the lower level, however, is not to be missed. With comfortable seating for 70, according to Contarino, its brushed nickel and aluminum décor is home to flat-screen televisions and kinetic lighting that bathes the space in red light for Sox games, green for the Celtics, yellow for the Bruins, and blue for the Patriots.

Additionally, Contarino has applied for a permit for outside seating in the adjacent courtyard, with flowers and a waterfall. From the menu to the atmosphere, Contarino said, the goal is to offer a big-city feel for local clientele.

“It’s simple,’’ he said. “We want to provide a unique experience.’’