After going back to Rocco this year, we felt a little bit better about the state of pizza in Western New York. There still aren’t that many great wood fire pizza places, but we’re getting there. Elm Street Bakery serves some of the best and somehow Delta Sonic even has decent pizza. But a couple weeks ago our friend Alan Bedenko posted the facebook page for 99 Brick Oven, a wood fire oven restaurant in Lancaster. We decided to take a risk and try it out.
Even though the pictures of the oven looked legit and their facebook was saying all of the right things, I was skeptical. Lancaster is a cute area but I’ve never thought of the town as a culinary destination. In the ~five years of running Buffalo Eats, the only Lancaster restaurants on our Master List are The Boston Hotel and Frosty’s (and it’s the same post).
- Restaurant Type: Casual Neighborhood Pizza Place
- Cuisine: Pizza
- Location: Lancaster
- Prices:Pizza $12-15, Appetizers $4-12, Sandwiches $10
Considering the restaurant is in a converted house, it’s impressive how much the first level actually looks like a restaurant. They have a large bar area, a bunch of seating and a partially open kitchen. You can walk by and watch their employees load pizza’s into the brick oven and I even was able to snap a picture of the thing (which was imported from Italy). After asking our server, we found out that they have an Italian “pizza consultant” who has been helping the restaurant owners with recipe testing and cooking techniques. In addition, they import some of their ingredients straight from Italy. We were seated in the upper floor which had a neat view of the bar but was a little plain and really felt like we were in someone’s upstairs bedroom.
The menu at 99 Brick Oven is pretty standard for local pizza places; they have a selection of Chicken Wings, some pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, etc. The actual pizza menu has only six options ($12-15), however there are plenty of toppings that you can add to customize your order. We started our meal with the ‘Mahi Mahi Fingers’ which was a special that night. They didn’t have a lot of flavor on their own but luckily the red pepper mayo and a squeeze of lemon went a long way to give the dish a needed kick. It’s a clever way to have the kids eat something a little bit more healthy (they looked like chicken fingers) but they weren’t that great.
For our main course we ordered their Margherita Pizza ($13) and a single order of their Brickeque Wings ($11). Their Brickeque wings are deep fried then covered in a thick sweet BBQ sauce and finished in their Brick Oven to give the wings an extra char. They were a little burnt but it still worked out, the charred flavor mixed really well with the sweet Kansas City style BBQ sauce. They cost a little extra, but it’s worth it for a twist on the standard chicken wing.
When the pizza came out, we knew it was going to be good on sight alone. For the first time, we ordered an advertised Neapolitan style pizza and it looked the part. The crust had a little char and was still light and airy and the perfect chewiness. The sauce and cheese ratio was also on point; the sweet tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella were perfectly balanced. My only complaint was the small amount of basil but that’s a very minor issue. It’s a perfect size for 2 to share and we had no problem finishing it off quickly. This pizza was great and the best Neapolitan style I’ve had in WNY.
If you would have told me that a restaurant in Lancaster has some of the best pizza (if not the best) in the area, I would have called you crazy. But with 99 Brick Oven Bar and Grille, that’s the case. They have a long menu that almost does a disservice by not emphasizing their pizza. In fact, most of the tables around us were ordering pastas, sandwiches and appetizers. I’m sure they are fine, but you can get that stuff anywhere. You can’t this quality of Neapolitan style pizza in WNY and we strongly encourage you to try it out.