No matter where you end up sitting — perhaps beside the in-house olive tree, tucked in a romantic two-seater table or along the handsome bar — you’re going to get a first-class seat at MidiCi Italian Kitchen, Mountain Brook’s newest pizzeria. The restaurant was designed so anyone, at any time, can see embers glow inside the restaurant’s two Acunto Napoli wood-fired ovens, which were, of course, crafted by the Acunto family in Naples, Italy, before finding their home in Birmingham.
While handmade pizzas topped with premium, fresh ingredients bake inside the oven, glasses of curated wine and craft beer are poured throughout the comfortable space, making anyone who walks through the doors feel as if they’ve left Birmingham and entered an authentic Italian kitchen — the kind where “Ma” is the one making the meal, and the only thing pressing is the handmade dough in the back.
“This is meant to be a social setting. It’s a place to put down your phone and let the hours linger,” says Lane Carrick, who owns the Mountain Brook MidiCi, which is Italian for “talk to me.”
Having only been opened a few weeks, MidiCi is already becoming a staple among locals looking to get savory Italian food in a laid-back setting. The restaurant, Lane says, champions the concept of using the best ingredients to create an unbeatable dining experience. Couple that with the MidiCi model of encouraging guests to take a break from their chaotic everyday lives and find time to savor good food and quality conversation, and you have an inviting haven where families, couples or friends can relax and enjoy time together.
Specializing in homemade pizzas, calzones, meatballs, salads (and eventually pastas, Lane adds), MidiCi channels what one might find along the streets of Italy.
“For Italians, the meal is a very social thing,” Lane says. “There’s no clock running. Dinner in Italy might be a three-hour adventure with lots of food and wine and friends — and that’s what this space is trying to evoke.”
One step inside the pizzeria, which is conveniently located off Cahaba Road near Mountain Brook’s Western Market, and patrons will know what Lane is talking about. All entrees are made to order, right in front of the guest. First pressing the dough, then adding fresh toppings — which might include house-made spicy sausage, black truffle cheese or prosciutto — and then baking the pizza in the wood-fired oven for a couple minutes, every MidiCi pizza is prepared to perfection in the Neapolitan way.
“Ninety percent of what happens from a food preparation standpoint is happening out here, in front of the customer,” Lane says. “It’s almost like getting a little bit of theater while you dine.”
If the restaurant is the stage, then the panettiere (Italian for “baker”) is definitely the star of the show. Because it takes a good bit of mastery to know how to operate the restaurant’s two ovens, which can get as hot as 850 degrees, the baker must be skilled in sensing when each pizza is baked to perfection. Navigating the oven’s three “hot spots” is a feat of its own.
“It’s really an art and a science,” Lane points out. “They have to watch the crust and the toppings, rotating it when necessary, to make sure it’s cooked and comes out perfect.”
Visitors to MidiCi have the option of ordering one of their 13 specialty pizzas (some flavors include margherita & prosciutto, truffle & vegetable and double pepperoni) or creating their own classic Neapolitan pizza by choosing their base and toppings. The restaurant also features a tasty smorgasbord of small plates, perfect for sharing.
For first-timers, Lane recommends ordering a few small plates, and then a couple of pizzas for sharing. And be prepared to settle in for a good time, he adds. It’s the Italian way, after all.
“If you were to come in here at 8:30 last night, you would have seen it. There’s an electric energy,” he says while the first few customers begin trickling in. “The music is on, the lighting is low, the tree is lit, the fire is coming from the oven. People are sitting and talking, food is cooking, and it just has this wonderful, unique feeling.”
Visit MidiCi at 270 Rele Street, Mountain Brook, AL 35223. They are open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit mymidici.com or call (205) 848-6434.
All mouth-watering images provided by MidiCi.
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