Local Spotlight: Fire & Oak Jersey City
At Newport, our beautiful waterfront location puts us right in the center of an array of great dining options. Lucky for us, Fire & Oak--a classic American Grill with a modern take--is just steps away. We wanted to learn more about this Jersey City favorite, so this week we’re chatting with the owner and director of operations, Errick Paragioudakis, to get all the details on this delicious, crowd-pleasing spot. Enjoy our conversation below and we hope you stop by Fire & Oak for a bite soon!*
Newport: Hi, Errick. Thanks so much for talking with us today! Let’s start by having you introduce yourself to the Newport community by telling us a bit about how Fire & Oak came to be at this location.
Errick Paragioudakis: Sure. So, before we brought Fire & Oak to this location, we had a seafood restaurant called South City Grill. We opened that in 2003 in one of the Newport towers, in the space that I believe is now Newport Eats. We had great clientele and were lucky to be very busy. While we were there the owners of the Westin Hotel approached us and asked us to develop the American Grill concept for Fire & Oak. We already knew the area and its potential and how it was growing, so we knew it was a great spot for us...and so far, so good! We’ve been here 11 years and we have a great partnership with the Westin Hotel.
N: Tell us a bit more about what guests can expect to find on the menu at Fire & Oak.
EP: So everything is made right here at Fire & Oak, from scratch. We are definitely chef-driven, meaning we use the highest quality products, with simple, good execution. We aim to elevate all our dishes, really taking American comfort food to the next level with our ingredients. We source great seafood, many organic products, all our steaks are prime. We’re always striving to offer our guests the best possible quality at the most reasonable price.
N: What would you say your typical clientele is here?
EP: We are really for everybody. We’ll see families, corporate execs, football teams dining--we have a menu that is well-rounded. You know, we try to limit the “no” vote from people trying to decide where to go out to eat. It’s not a huge menu, but we really try to take care of everyone, whether you’re looking for vegetarian dishes, sushi, great steaks, or amazing pastas. Any dish you pick is sure to deliver.
N: The coronavirus brought a lot of unexpected ups-and-downs for all those involved in the restaurant industry. What has that experience been like for Fire & Oak?
EP: Well, obviously we were closed for a few months, so we did a lot of research and development with our team. We knew increased takeout would be this new added layer to our business, so we searched for really good takeout packaging that looks great and travels well. We wanted it to hold the crispness of fries and calamari well and for your pasta or your steak to arrive looking and tasting delicious.
As far as precautions, we’ve gone above and beyond with cleaning and sanitizing. Each guest gets their own personal sanitizer, their own little package when they sit down. We’ve partnered with Corgi Spirits, who made a 90% alcohol-based sanitizer that’s really effective. Our staff gets tested frequently, they obviously wear masks and gloves, and all our tables are spaced appropriately. We’ve been able to open indoor dining recently and the response has been great; people are thoroughly enjoying it. Our staff is working extra hard to make sure all our guests are completely satisfied and feel comfortable and safe. We also added heaters recently to expand the use of our outdoor dining.
N: That’s excellent. One last question for you. Do you have a favorite dish on the menu?
EP: It’s like children, you can’t pick just one...[laughs]...they’re all good. I think our ribs are probably the best I’ve had. We say here they “fall off the bone,” and they really literally do fall off the bone. They’re smoked for 7 hours and the barbecue sauce is just really flavorful and great. Really, between our ribs and our steak, you can’t go wrong.
N: We can’t wait to dine with you soon. Thank you so much!
EP: We can’t wait to have you. Thank you!
*This interview has been edited and condensed.
All photos courtesy of Fire & Oak.