If you are looking to grab a gourmet yet casual bite while doing your holiday shopping, check out the new eatery in Burlington, Jack’s Coal Fired Pizza. Jack’s serves up handcrafted pizzas cooked to mouthwatering perfection in the restaurant’s Italian-made coal-fired and wood-fired ovens. As the name suggests, the coal-fired concept is carried throughout Jack’s, influencing everything from the cocktail program to the interior décor. An open-concept kitchen, large sleek red booths, a gas fireplace, and barbershop-style barstool seating make for a comfortable atmosphere.
“The name actually comes from the restaurant’s owner Jon Cronin’s grandfather, Jack, who was an Irish immigrant,” says corporate executive chef Sean McDonald. “Jack worked in New York building skyscrapers in the 1930s, and at lunchtime he would warm his meal in the coal oven where they made steel rivets, so he got the nickname Coal Fire Jack.”
Chef Sean McDonald
McDonald has come to Jack’s Coal Fired Pizza with an extensive culinary background. After spending his teenage years working part-time jobs in a number of restaurants washing dishes, delivering pizza, and as a short-order cook, he spent four years at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, in the culinary arts and food service management program. He went on to work for the Houston’s Restaurant Group as well as the Back Bay Restaurant Group before joining the Cronin Group in 2013.
McDonald explains that the coal-fired oven can reach temperatures upwards of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, which yields a crust that is crispier and more like a cracker in texture. The wood-fired oven heats to about 900 degrees and makes a crust that has a softer “chew.” They are both delicious—it comes down to preference, says McDonald.
A large “Eat Pizza” marquee mounted above the bar beckons you to order one of the many innovative pizzas on the menu—try a 16-inch stretched coal-fired pie such as Swine & Sprouts, a tasty Brussels sprouts and pork belly pizza with tomato and mozzarella and a balsamic reduction. I liken these toppings to a winter supper on crust. The coal-fired Hawaiian pizza is topped with sweet pineapple, salty ham, and tangy gruyere cheese.
If you are looking for a smaller traditional pizza, try the wood-fired 12-inch Margherita pie cooked in the Marra Forni brick oven—basically the Rolls Royce of pizza ovens. Or the classic salami with tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, and Romano. McDonald sources as many local ingredients as he can for his dishes.
The coal-fired offerings don’t stop at the pizzas. Many of the dishes are fired in the coal oven, such as the chicken wings, which are marinated in a lemon and Italian herb rub for 24 hours before being roasted at a high temperature to create a crispy wing—and of course there is the all-American favorite, buffalo wings. The charred cauliflower done in the coal-fired oven is another must-try. The flavorful slow-roasted meatballs are also finished in that oven. “We melt the mozzarella over the meatballs,” says McDonald. “The cheese helps seal in the juices of the meat—really protecting the meatball.”
Specialty cocktails also pay homage to the coal-fired oven, like the Coal Fired Peach Lemonade, made with Tito’s, white peach puree, charred lemonade, and coal-fired peaches.
Other must-try items on the menu include the skillet mussels, cooked with garlic, shallots, white wine, and lemon butter, and the chef’s antipasti board of cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, bread crisps, and fig spread. Pastas, such as classic shrimp scampi and creamy fettuccini Alfredo with shelled peas, are also on offer.
But, save room for dessert. Sweet notes include homemade banaffee pie, made of graham crackers, toffee, bananas, and custard.
Jack’s Coal-Fired Pizza
2 Wall St., Burlington,