When Montclair’s Jason Rosenthal was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, he was forced to shut the doors of his then Union City-based restaurant Brick + Dough.
It was especially discouraging to shutter the doors of the wood fired eatery during a time in which pizza businesses – the perfect option for takeout – were actually thriving during New Jersey’s shelter-in-place mandate.
“That month off really allowed me to take a step back and evaluate what I really wanted,” said Rosenthal. “It all just wound up in Montclair.”
“We basically came up with this master plan to partner up and take over the entire Luisa building and create a brand-new concept between the two of us,” Rosenthal said.
The new concept will add the Brick + Dough eatery to the the 110 Walnut Street location, while all of the offerings provided by Chef Meny and Luisa Bakery will still be readily available in the space. The building, however, will rebrand as Brick + Dough: A Wood Fired Eatery.
“We’re still a bakery, we’re still making fresh bread every day, we’re really just adding to what we have,” Rosenthal said. “You’re still going to be able to come in in the morning for your latte and your croissant… you’re still going to be able to get all of those staple menu items, we’re just going to be adding a full lunch and a full dinner menu.”
The new concept will allow customers to flow through the space and gain different experiences within the restaurant under one roof. The marketplace section will be where customers can come in and grab some bakery items. The eatery section will provide an intimate feel in which diners can watch the chef making dough, homemade pasta, mozzarella etc. through the glass-encased dough room; and then watch as their pizza cooks in one of the wood fire ovens at the bar-style seating. Once the pizza is out, customers can either take it to go, or sit down to eat in the indoor or outdoor seating spaces.
There will also be a takeout window connected to the oven space where customers can order at the window and get their pizza in a socially-distant and safe way without ever entering the building.
Fine Food In A Fast Casual Environment
Brick + Dough will combine a fast-casual customer experience with fine dining. “You’re ordering in a fast-casual way, but you’re going to have five-star dinners being brought out to you when you sit down, so it’s really bringing those two concepts together,” Rosenthal said.
For Rosenthal, getting diagnosed with COVID-19 was disheartening – he was a chef who lost his sense of taste and smell for a month and half – time he wishes could’ve been used experimenting in the kitchen. But, that time off proved to be a blessing in disguise, allowing him to finally draw out where he wanted his career in the restaurant industry to go and fully develop his plans to move to his dream location of Montclair.
“It’s weird because this COVID has affected people in terrible ways and its awful to see, but I think there is another story and another side to this as well,” he said, “it’s kind of allowed people to take the time that the world did not offer them previously… it’s something that I think I needed and its brought me to a place that I’ve only dreamed of in the past.”