First things first: Bruschetta should be pronounced “broo-sketta,” not “broo-shetta.”
Bruschetta is basically toast with stuff on it. Italian restaurants have done their best to convince us that bruschetta is an elegant appetizer for special occasions, but you can make it for a crowd at home in 10 minutes flat, using ingredients that cost less than $10. (I bought everything I needed, save the olive oil, for $8.76.)
Classic bruschetta with olive oil, garlic, tomato and basil is a wonderful foodstuff with only one drawback: It can hurt your mouth when you eat it. Between the rough texture of the toasted bread and the piquancy of the raw garlic that’s traditionally rubbed on it, bruschetta can make the top of your mouth feel as though it has been scoured with steel wool.
To forestall pain, it’s important to slice the bread thickly, so there’s plenty of fluff in the middle of each slice, and to toast it (or, more traditionally, grill it) conservatively so it doesn’t turn rock-hard. You want bread that’s golden brown, not deeply charred. It also helps to drizzle excess tomato juice on the toasted bread to soften it up.
If your tomato doesn’t have excess juice, you should be concerned. Bruschetta is one of those dishes that is only as good as the sum of its parts: If you don’t start with a decent tomato, you won’t have decent bruschetta. That tomato should be heavy and soft, and it should smell tomato-y.
The quality of your bread and olive oil matter, too. Whether you use baguette, focaccia, ciabatta or some other Italian loaf, it should come from a bakery, not a grocery-store aisle. You also should make a point of using an assertive, fruity extra-virgin oil.