A flickering fire burns bright at Fire, Oak & Barley as servers flip dough and place countless pizzas in the restaurant’s blazing wood-fired oven. Customers chatter as several widescreen televisions broadcast sports games and events and decorative artwork illuminates the walls. Large illuminated menus boast scrumptious sandwiches, diverse pizza selections and an assortment of soups.
Fire, Oak & Barley, a new family-owned restaurant located at 341 South California Ave., aims to provide its customers with high quality, nutritious options and a fun atmosphere.
“A truly great meal requires three things: the freshest ingredients; skill and attention to detail in preparation and service; and most of all, a real passion for food,” owner Dan Brunello said.
On a recent visit, we were immediately greeted by the friendly staff located behind the counter near the front of the restaurant. A jug with cold, refreshing water sits on a small table, and fireplaces create a warm environment. Throughout the ordering and eating process, the staff was helpful and patient. Fire, Oak & Barley opened in August, between The Counter and Cafe Pro Bono, neighboring Starbucks, Spice Kit and Pizza Studio.
According to Brunello, the name “Fire, Oak & Barley” stems from the all-day wood-fired menu items, the wine bar selection as well as the local craft beers on tap.
The restaurant’s warm green and orange lighting creates a comfortable ambiance. A small patio in the front of the restaurant outside seats 16 people with a double-sided fireplace that also burns in front of a lounge area inside. While the restaurant is informal, the calm atmosphere is a comfortable dinnertime environment.
Fire, Oak & Barley’s menu includes a large selection of sandwiches, salads, soups and pizzas. The restaurant mainly specializes in grilled foods, wine and beer.
“California Fresh” ($8.95), one of the restaurant’s signature sandwiches, is an enjoyable option served on a dutch crunch roll. It is composed of a freshly roasted turkey breast, avocado, Monterey jack cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, served with a side of coleslaw on lettuce. While the bread was a bit hard, the sandwich had fresh ingredients and the avocado was appetizing. Both the turkey and cheese were flavorful, although the condiments were bland. The sandwich’s overall taste was stronger than most other sandwiches, and the bread was surprisingly delicious.
The “Margherita Pizza” ($13.95), another customer favorite, is composed of a light San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil, sea salt, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The pizza is split into eight slices, a bit too much for a single person serving. As I took a bite of the pizza sprinkled with basil leaves I noticed that the thin crust was crunchy and there was a strong tomato sauce flavor. While the sauce was perfectly made, the pizza itself was too thin and therefore not as filling as traditional pizzas.
Overall, Fire, Oak & Barley offers appetizing meals and is well worth a visit for lunch or dinner and its prices are average compared to Palo Alto alternatives. The “California Fresh” sandwich and “Margherita Pizza” were well worth the price.