After nearly a year’s worth of renovations, Red Brick Tap & Grill opens tomorrow, Dec. 12, in Merion Village.
Formerly known as the Red Brick Inn, which opened in 1936, the bar had served as a neighborhood watering hole with a limited menu, pool tables and pinball. New owner George Stefanidis bought the business last fall and closed it in February for renovations.
The location, he says, reminds him of the kind of neighborhood bars found in historic cities like Boston, where bars are seemingly dropped into the middle of a residential area. He gutted the space, adding a full kitchen complete with a stone pizza oven and smoker. The 100-seat dining room now offers a sleek red-and-black, diner-meets-bar feel, plus a touch of kitsch from an entire wall covered in colorful comic book covers. Behind the bar there are 30 beers on top, plus 70 more in the bottle.
“I’m thinking the neighborhood could use a bar like this,” Stefanidis says. He’s owned Greek-leaning Easy Street Cafe for 20 years, and wanted this bar to have a different vibe. So he hired a chef with Southern roots to help create an All American menu with a few Southern influences.
Where there was a limited menu here before, there’s now a behemoth two page offering including calzones, hot dogs, salads, burgers and sandwiches, plus a list of standard bar appetizers like wings, quesadillas and soft pretzels.
But it’s the pizza that has both Stefanidis and head cook Mike Mottashed talking. These New York-style, Sicilian pies are stone-cooked for a crisp on the outside, doughy on the inside crust, says Mottashed. “We want people to eat the crust,” explains Mottashed, who coasts each crust in garlic butter and seasoned parmesan for extra flavor.
Two of the cook’s favorites? The Mad Hatter with feta, provolone, spinach, mozzarella, pepperoni strips, salami, ham, pepperoni, red onion and kalamata olives, and Porky’s Revenge topping with chipotle ranch, mozzarella, smoked gouda, pulled pork, bacon, smoked pork belly, fried onions and fried jalapenos. Pizza will also be available by the slice every day until 2 a.m.
Red Brick Tap & Grill will also offer delivery service to German Village, Merion Village, Olde Towne East, Brewery District and Downtown.
For now, Red Brick will be open for dinner and late night dining from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The plan is to add lunch and Sunday brunch after the holidays. —Beth Stallings