Visited the new Italian joint, Fireworks, last night for dinner. I had heard a third-hand account of confused service and many new restaurant kinks.. so initially I planned to wait a while to visit. The sign was inviting though, as was the thought of pizza from a real-deal pizza oven, so I caved in.
It was ~70% full on a Wednesday night around 7pm. The first thing that struck me was the setup and decor. Very warm, great use of the space. The half-moon bar is directly in the center of the restaurant with the open kitchen off to the side and tables from front to rear of the space. The ceiling is high and the front of the restaurant is windows on three sides, which provides spaciousness in spades. They could certainly be cramming more tables into the room, but they keep it comfy. Lighting is soft, upscale casual feel. The decor had some unique quirks that I quite enjoyed. There were ramekins of high quality sea salt on all the tables and the wine list was printed on empty wine bottles.
The wine list was decent, offering a few selections of both red and white under three tongue-in-cheek headings, 'cheap' 'decent', and 'good'. I'm not a wine guy, and opted for beer. Good selection of brews.. Otter Creek makes a special pale ale for Fireworks (Fireworks Ale). I had a Brooklyn IPA. There was another OC selection, Sam Adams winter, and they also offered some macro-brewed piss. My beer was fresh.
The menu is succinct and includes apps, pizzas, main courses & pastas- about 6-7 items in each category. We ordered Sopa de Lima, Salt and Pepper Fried Calamari, Baked Goat Cheese with Olives and Tomatoes, and a White Clam Pizza. The soup was the best thing of the night- zesty lime, tender chicken, fresh queso blanco and supple avocado. Very balanced spice yet robust flavor. The calamari was tender, not greasy, and had a nice flaky panko-like crust. It was bit salty, and I realized that was due mostly to the pepper-infused mayo served to dip. The goat cheese dip was served with crispy crostini squares.. Despite the presence of large, unwieldy roasted tomato strips and savory black olives, it fell a little flat and bland (tasted like, well, goat cheese. hrumph.) The white pizza arrived in a timely fashion afterwards. Despite being more like American Flatbread than Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza (it was very crispy and lacked that inner-crust chew), it was full of very fresh, thick chunks of chopped clam. Perhaps a bit too much parsley, but the garlic, clams, and lemon hint dominated. I hope not to come across as too picky, overall I was very happy with my meal.
Prices were on the higher end of very reasonable. My beer was $4, most wines were in the 5-6$/glass range.. The pizza was $11 or $12 and was enough for 2. Appetizers ran around $7 each. Meat and pasta entrees hovered around the mid-to-upper teens.
The service was aces. Waitress answered all questions with confidence and had a great comeback to my question about specials.. "Everything's special!" Nice :-) The owner stopped by to check on the status of my meal, and he seems very passionate about pizza and Italian cuisine in general. He was actually slaving over the stove most of the night, getting his hands dirty.
I'll certainly be back. Next time, I'll revisit that exquisite soup and probably steer towards an entree as opposed to pizza. I am a big pasta fan and it was good to see a ricotta gnocchi and pappardelle bolognese on the regular menu. I can also see the bar here being a regular hangout... They offer a burger which would be perfect with a cold one and a barstool on an upcoming spring evening.
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