Kapolei’s Piece of the Pie

Popular Kaua‘i import, Brick Oven Pizza, settles in.

Entering BRICK OVEN PIZZA on Kamokila Boulevard is like walking into everybody’s favorite neighborhood haunt. Distinct from the slew of national restaurant chains in the area that seem to blend into one another, Brick Oven stands out as a family-run operation with strong roots in the islands that continues its storyline within Kapolei’s commercial hub.

Warm, faux brick walls and red-and-white checkered tablecloths present an inviting ambiance for the whole family, as the aroma of fresh tomato sauce, garlic butter and just-baked dough hint at the comfort foods awaiting patrons.

While the restaurant has only been part of Kapolei’s dining scene since 2011, its origins date back to 1977, when the first location debuted in Kalaheo, Kaua‘i. Over time, Brick Oven Pizza has become something of a culinary institution for tourists and residents alike with its distinctive pizzas, pastas, salads, sandwiches, appetizers and more.

When founders and original owners Earl and Michelle Demas decided to hang up their aprons in 2008, they wanted the Brick Oven legacy to continue on. They turned to the Kaua‘i community, working with a group of residents that make up AGR Inc: The Aguano, Gummerus and Rice families. AGR Inc. acquired Brick Oven Pizza that same year, and has carried on the operation ever since.

The business has expanded to include four Brick Oven Pizza eateries, with two locations on Kaua‘i and two on O‘ahu. As current president and CEO Corey Aguano recalls, running the restaurants felt like a natural fit for him and his business associates, as they all grew up eating the Garden Isle pizza. “When we were younger, you could not even get into that place; it always had the best pizza … so whenever we were on the West side [of Kaua‘i], we used to beg our parents to go there,” he says.

The current owners have kept a good thing going, maintaining all of the beloved qualities Brick Oven Pizza is known for—from the tried-and-true dough, sauce and sausage recipes to the exact same baking equipment. With a growing base of loyal customers in the area, Aguano says AGR Inc.’s move to open Brick Oven Pizza on the Leeward side, as opposed to more congested parts of O‘ahu, was well worth it.

“This is more of a local clientele. On Kaua‘i, we have a lot of tourists that come to both of our restaurants because of where we’re located, so we took a gamble on catering to the locals [in Kapolei], and it paid off,” he explains. “We have a good following, and the people over here remind us of Kaua‘i a little bit.”

In addition to its welcoming atmosphere, what is it about Brick Oven Pizza that makes it so crave-worthy? As one of the only original pizzeria concepts in the islands, Brick Oven’s menu is unlike any other in Hawai‘i. Pizza pies are baked to crisp, melted, oozing goodness on brick hearths inside stainless-steel Bakers Pride ovens, which only trained employees are authorized to operate. According to Aguano, after two and a half to three hours of heating, the ovens are pizza-ready. “We cook it on these bricks and that’s how we get these crispy crusts,” he describes.

The crusts are as well-known as the establishment itself, complete with fi rm edges that are both puffy and chewy on the inside. Arguably the pretti est crusts in existence, the outer rim of dough is twisted into a rope-like patt ern before it is baked, lending a disti nct shape ideal for holding copious amounts of garlic butt er, the eatery’s signature sauce designed to spread over the crust.

Endless fl avor possibiliti es lie inside this bready fortress. A plethora of classic pies have pleased customers for years, including Brick Oven’s “Super” Pizza. This topping-lovers’ fantasy consists of homemade sauce, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, house-made Italian sausage, seasoned lean beef, Portuguese sausage, smoked ham, green onions and bell peppers. Patrons may also build their own pies, including a choice of Brick Oven Pizza’s six unique base sauces—from BBQ and Alfredo to Pesto and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Since expanding the operation in 2008, Aguano and his team have enhanced the menu with a handful of dishes, including Kalaheo Smoked Meat, an appetizer made in-house on Kaua‘i and flown over to the O‘ahu locations. The pizzeria also houses a full bar and offers rotating specials on the menu. As an extra helping of fun, Aguano brought the feel of the fabled original location to Kapolei by continuing the tradition of hanging license plates from around the world on the walls. Patrons are welcomed to bring plates in to add to the collection, as well as share in the savory world of memories surrounding Hawai‘i’s favorite pizza.

674-8561 | www.brickovenpizzahi.com