Since its opening roughly 18 months ago, I've become something of a regular for weeknight dinner at Fireside Pies. The West 7th location in Fort Worth hasn't failed me yet: The menu delights with its ever-changing offering of seasonal ingredients, the service remains just about flawless and the cocktail and wine selection keep things interesting.
When I heard that the sophisticated pizza joint would open its doors for lunch, I was a little afraid I'd get less work done. The temptation to linger over a lengthy midday feast with pals would be too great.
But the clientele in and around West 7th tends to be office folks who can't fiddle-faddle at lunch, and the lunch service at Fireside is prompt. When three of us stopped in for a preview a few days ago, our meals arrived in a timely fashion.
What I love, however, is that we didn't feel rushed.
New, and hugely popular with my table, was a dish from the salad side of the menu. The Bay of Fundy salmon was silken to the cut of a fork, and perfect atop a bed of farro, a hefty grain laced with dill yogurt. Decorating the top of the fish, a salad of fresh tomatoes and cucumber took a drizzle of cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Altogether, the dish ($17) was exceptionally light but sizable enough to share.
One of the features, the Gulf shrimp entree ($16) impressed with large, expertly cooked crustaceans arranged over a nest of translucent ribbons of handmade noodles. Crafted on-site, the pasta was feather-light and addictive, as it was teased with a treatment of garlic, crushed red chiles, white wine and fresh, flat-leaf parsley.
A heartier option, from the sandwich section of the menu, brings to mind those that I've enjoyed at Italian delis in cities back east through the years. It's a gorgeous grinder ($13), a long, crunchy sandwich that easily divided three ways. Piled into the crusty bread was a layer of house-made pork sausage decorated with sliced pickled peppers, fresh ricotta, a little mayo and a swabbing of marinara. This is a two-fisted work that you'd love to savor with a big glass of hearty red - or a Rahr Bucking Bock - but we were behaved, sipping instead a freshly made lemonade, sassy with just a hint of fresh ginger.
People who can afford to take their sweet time can still order one of Fireside's oven-fired pizzas, of course. My favorite remains the Burrata, a luscious combination of mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes and basil pesto ($14) on the cracker-crisp crust. It's perfect with a glass of Scarpetta pinot grigio 2010 ($11), a pretty terrific wine for these hot summer days.
Lunch prices range from $9 (for crostini) to $16 (for the Gulf shrimp noodles), but keep in mind that most every dish is big enough to share. Fireside will serve lunch daily from 11 am to 4 pm. The dinner menu begins at 4 pm.
When I go to Fireside, I still feel like lollygagging. But when the clock is ticking, I'm glad I can still get the good eats I crave.