The name says it all: Big Bricks. This new outpost from the team behind the classic Lincoln Park pizzeria Bricks has been in the works for two years, but now it's finally opening its doors. According to co-owner Bill Brandt, everything is set to go and now they're awaiting their liquor license from the city. If all goes to plan, Big Bricks should (hopefully) officially open on Monday, Feb. 6.
Over the course of the last two years, Brandt and business partner, Nick Kontalonis (who also owns Marquee Lounge) completely gutted the former Grizzly's Lodge to create this approximately 180-seat bi-level pizza joint with a full party room on the second level.
The space looks like a classic Chicago tavern with a mahogany bar, vintage tin ceiling, exposed brick walls and wood and tile throughout on the floors. The front bar (that has 20 tap beers, 50 bottles, 10 glass pours of wine and 40 bottles) has a number of high-boys, exposed duct work and burnt red wallpaper. There's an open space behind the bar looking into the kitchen, giving it somewhat of an old-school essence.
The back room offers additional seating and leads to an expansive back brick patio that can be used during the warm months. Upstairs has an additional 50-plus seats, a full bar and 100-year-old wood floors.
While the menu focuses on Bricks classic gas-fired pizza (they considered doing wood, but Brandt said it would have changed their pizza style), a 4,200 pound barbecue pit in the basement will add a new flavor. Brandt said they will use mostly hickory wood to smoke brisket, pork shoulder, bacon, ham and chicken for the pizzas, but will also have baby back ribs with a tangy St. Louis-style sauce. "It's the same great pizza, with great new barbecue," he said. He said they're thinking of doing Friday fish frys as well.
While it took a while to get here and even though it's a distance from their original spot, opening in North Center made sense. "It's a great neighborhood," Brandt said. "A lot of people who used to live more toward the original Bricks have come up Lincoln Avenue as they've started to have families."