Italian Oven Cafe
4090 Brownsville Road
Brentwood Towne Square
12/26/09 Update: The Brentwood location of Italian Oven appears to be closed. I know they were planning to move to a location in Caste Village. My hope is that the Caste Village location will open soon - I hope that they are not closed permanently! If anyone knows what has happened to them, please let us know - I have been having an Italian Oven craving.
I am a long time fan of Italian Oven - I was sorry when the once large chain of restaurants ran into problems, but delighted when the Italian Oven reemerged in the Brentwood Towne Square in 2004.
The Italian Oven Cafe is a fast/casual restaurant, where you place your order at a counter (or by fax or phone). You can watch your food being prepared if you like, or relax at tables or in a comfortable chair while you wait.
The Italian Oven offers two basic types of "pizza al forno" - Rosa (red) or Fancy White pizza - both of which are prepared in a wood fired oven.
On our latest visit, we ordered a Pizza Rosa - a classic pizza with red sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese. We ordered the 12" and asked for extra sauce and light cheese. The cheese was delicious but, as you can see from the photo, definitely not "light"! The crust was outstanding - thin and crispy, with a nice chewiness and a light dusting of cornmeal on the bottom. The sauce was rich, sweet and mildly spicy, with some small chunks of tomato.
We didn't order any topping for our pizza, but the Italian Oven offers pepperoni, Italian sausage, onion, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, homemade meatballs, peppers, bacon or Cappacola. In addition to the 12" size that we ordered, the pizzas also are sold by the slice, or in 14" or 18" sizes.
On past visits, I've also tried the white pizza and am particularly fond of the Grilled Chicken and Spinach version that also is topped with bacon, onions and Roma tomatoes. Other white pizzas offered are a classic Bianca, Margherita, BBQ Chicken and Vegetariana versions. Slices of pizza are also offered in combination with a tossed salad or cup of soup - we like their Wedding Soup.
Another Italian Oven favorite of mine is the Grilled Tuscan Chicken Panini, which comes with "fresh mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, crispy onions, mixed greens and artichoke lemon pesto." Other Panini include Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Italian Sausage, Classic Italian, Grilled Portabella Mushroom, a wonderful Italian Meatball and Cheese, Grilled Sirloin Steak and Chicken BLT. All panini are oven baked on ciabatta bread and are served with a bag of chips.
In addition to the pizza and panini, Italian Oven serves wonderful salads, stromboli and pasta dishes. I've never tried the stromboli, but have had the Chicken Parmesan with linguine and liked it very much.
In the evening (after 6 p.m.) Italian Oven offers a complimentary pitcher of beer with a qualifying dine-in purchase. They also serve breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and also have a reasonably priced Kids' Menu.
And here's a tip ... if you like Fried Zucchini, as I do, you will love their Famous Italian Oven (r) Cafe Fried Zucchini!!!!! Wow!