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Old Flames

This winter, get cozy at these fireside dining destinations.


Michelle Smith

There is nothing so primal as fire. It recalls our tribal roots. It symbolizes man’s dominion over nature. And it goes so well with fried pizza dough stuffed with prosciutto, crescenza, and ricotta.

That’s one of the appetizers at Danville’s Incontro, where you can cozy up to an open fire pit on the spacious front patio (pictured). These outdoor fire pits are the hot new trend. The Park Bistro and Bar in Lafayette recently added them to match its new warmer concept. You can also nibble by Blackhawk Grille’s multiple fire pits—part of the restaurant’s recent transformation. Blackhawk Plaza’s winding waterways add to the effect.

That same allure is present at Forge in Jack London Square, where a slight chill from the waterfront calls for a little cuddling by the enticing fire pit.

Fireplaces, of course, are even easier to come by. And they have one big advantage: They can be enjoyed inside or out.

A hearth gives off a whiff of luxury particularly well suited to steak houses. Fat books and a handsome wine case enhance the fireplace at Walnut Creek’s Vic Stewart’s. The dimly lit McNamara’s in Dublin has huge fireplaces inside and out. And the venerable bar at San Ramon’s Brass Door has kept a flame going for decades.

Flames are for the heart, too. Witness the fireplace room of Lafayette’s Postino—perhaps the most romantic restaurant in Contra Costa. Crockett’s The Dead Fish also has a few intimate niches with dancing flames.

It must be the unconscious nostalgia, reconnecting us to our hunter-gatherer days. But let’s not get too romantic: It’s better to have an ahi slider than a fistful of mammoth meat.


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