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The brick-oven pizzas at Mezzanotte are great

Mezzanotte Brick Oven Pizzeria

2907 Providence Road; 704-365-4650; lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday to Saturday; dinner, 4-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday.

Open for less than a year, Mezzanotte Brick Oven Pizzeria offers great Italian food in a simple and comforting atmosphere. Known mainly for its brick-oven pizzas, the restaurant also provides salad and pasta dishes. Mezzanotte is another hot spot created by Augusto Conte (SouthPark's Toscana, uptown's Luce and Coco Osteria and Phillips Place's Il Posto). The bar area is impressive, and the patio, which looks out to the corner of Providence and Sharon Amity roads, is pleasant.

THE SCENE: A small waiting area opens to a spacious dining room with large wooden tables. To the rear of the restaurant is a large half-moon-shaped bar area, which offers a view of the restaurant's brick oven. There are smaller tables in this dining area.

THE MENU: Brick-oven pizzas rule here. You'll find pies with fresh mozzarella, basil, artichokes, pepperoni, Italian sausage and more. Thin crust pizzas are made with homemade sauces. The restaurant also serves salads, paninis, fresh pastas and deserts. I sampled the Mezzanotte pizza, topped with mushrooms, sausage and fresh mozzarella. The pizza was outstanding. My dining partner had the penne all' Arrabiata (penne pasta with garlic, parsley and peperoncino tomato sauce), which had a spicy kick.

THE CROWD: Few tables were filled during my visit. An older couple dined in the large dining area, while two tables of young couples sat near the bar area. Our server said there's a mix between young families and older couples. The biggest crowds are during the weekends.

WHAT THEY'RE KNOWN FOR: Brick-oven pizza and outstanding service. The wait staff was very attentive.

THE CHECK: Most lunch items are less than $10. Dinner entrees range from $9 to more than $15. The portions are big enough that you may need a to-go box.

CASH OR CHECK: Cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express.

VEGETARIAN ENTREES: There's a vegetarian pizza topped with grilled vegetables, smoked mozzarella and basil; many of the pasta dishes are vegetarian-friendly.

KID-FRIENDLY: There's a kids' menu with items such as pasta with meatballs and cheese pizza.

FOR HERE OR TO GO? I saw two people picking up to-go orders. Mezzanotte also offers private dining and off-site catering.