Stone Fire Pizza is easy to love: a family-friendly restaurant with accessible, high-quality Italian food. “Somewhere you can bring the kids and the family and enjoy good food, good company, and a nice atmosphere,” explains General Manager Samantha Simon.
The oven is, of course, one of the draws. The wood-burning oven, imported from Italy, features a porthole that is always open, and a rotating floor to evenly bake the pizzas, and to roast tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. The other star is the pizza itself: thin, soft Neapolitan-style gourmet creations with fresh toppings as varied as Brussels sprouts, grilled artichokes, clams, shrimp, and even a fried egg. Pizza isn’t all brother-and-sister owners Renato Rancic and Sylvia Denardo offer, however. They also serve pastas (some of which, such as tortellini and gnocchi, are made fresh in-house), panini, and classic Italian entrees such as Chicken Parmigiana and Veal Scaloppini Piccata. Specials frequently involve whatever seafood is fresh at market.
“We’ve really tried to put the best ingredients forward,” says Simon. “Our dishes are so simple – it’s the ingredients that will really make a dish.”
The space opens with a bar, but it doesn’t feel like such a bar “scene”—across a half-wall, the small yet airy dining area is packed with stylish families, their children bouncing along the orange pleather banquette that lines the room. Behind the bar, a counter wraps around the wood burning oven, allowing a front-row dining experience.
What we tried
Arancini: I was sad that there were only four of these delectable deep-fried risotto croquettes, covered in golden brown bread crumbs and served alongside a pesto aioli – I wanted more! Buried within the creamy, cheesy rice was a special bonus block of asiago cheese for an added jolt of deliciousness.
Linguini and Mussels Fra Diavolo: The first thing we noticed was the gorgeous, hand-placed spiral of garlicy Prince Edward Island mussels — quite a generous serving of them! — arranged atop the linguini. The fra diavolo sauce was delicious but not as spicy as expected.
Pissaladierre Pizza: This flavor-packed gourmet pie is like a French Onion Soup in pizza form — instead of sauce, the dough is covered with a base of soft, carmelized Spanish onions. Tiny bits of cherry pepper add an astonishing amount of heat. Cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives top a bed of swiss cheese (standing in for the traditional gruyere).
Margherita Pizza: I wanted to see how a place that specializes in fancy pies would execute a basic Margherita. The freshness of the ingredients, evident in every dish we tried, really stood out in this more traditional pie. The rustic-style chunky sauce of San Marzano plum tomatoes is topped with fresh mozzarella—made daily, then spiced in-house with oregano, pepper, and bread crumbs—parmesan, olive oil, and garnished with the largest basil leaf I’d ever seen. Bellissimo!
Drinks and dessert
There’s a full bar with wine, beer, and cocktails, but as a family restaurant at lunch there didn’t seem to be much of a focus on the drinks (I had a Sam Adams Octoberfest). For dessert we had the Warm Brownie with Gelato, which was rich and fresh but didn’t come with nearly enough gelato on the plate. Stuck into the dab of gelato was one of the best cookies I’ve ever had, a small chocolate chip infused with a bit of oats.
Families — on a Sunday afternoon the place was packed with them. The evening sees more couples and groups of friends, but at least one family is always to be spotted.
In the summer, eight outdoor tables are bordered by flower boxes on the sidewalk.
What we will order next
The homemade meatballs, garnished with homemade tomato sauce and dollop of fresh ricotta cheese, are a house specialty. The arugula and prosciutto pizza and the “Hangover” pizza (featuring brussels sprouts, pancetta, and an egg, among other things) will also definitely be on our table.
The Irvington Town Hall Theater is across the street; Stone Fire Pizza offers a 20 percent discount on lunch or dinner with a ticket or stub.
— By Christine Gritmon for The Journal News and lohud.com.
The 411 on Stone Fire Pizza
Entree price range: $12-$25
Great for: Cheap Eats, Date Night, Solo Dining, Take Out, Excellent Desserts, Cocktails, Dining at the Bar, Girls’ Night Out, Kid Friendly, Meeting for a Drink, Outdoor Dining (Sidewalk), Open Kitchen, Dinner with Grandparents, Small Plates, Vegetarians
Noise level: Moderate to loud.
Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday-Thursday 12 pm – 9 pm; Friday, Saturday 12 pm – 10 pm; Sunday 12 pm – 8 pm
Go: Stone Fire Pizza, 76 Main Street, Irvington, 914-591-5800; stonefireirvington.com