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FOOD

From brick mason to South Shore pizza king

Christopher Jeffcote started building pizza ovens in people’s backyards, only no one knew how to use them. So he taught his clients — and quickly realized he had a knack for making really good pizza.

Christopher Jeffcote checks on a pizza.
Christopher Jeffcote checks on a pizza.Jakob Menendez

DUXBURY — In March 2015, brick by brick, Christopher Jeffcote built “a food truck without wheels” in an empty parking lot in Duxbury and started selling pizzas straight from the pizza ovens he built inside. As a self-taught brick mason who began working immediately after high school, he never could have guessed his career would take such a drastic turn — from laying down bricks to laying down dough.

Within a few months, not only were Duxbury residents lining up for his pizzas, but so were people from neighboring towns. The result? Nearly two- to three-hour waits every night.

Fire & Stone in Duxbury.
Fire & Stone in Duxbury.Jakob Menendez

It wasn’t long before Jeffcote and his wife, Kaitlyn, outgrew the little building, about the size of a garden shed. Now, they run Fire & Stone Trattoria in a bigger space across the street. Their days often start and end in the pizza kitchen that Jeffcote built with his own two hands — enormous brick ovens and all.

When asked how one could even make such a shift in their career to begin with, Jeffcote said, “Oh, you have to be insane. . . . There are no Saturday soccer games anymore, there is no dinner at night. It’s a commitment.” Having a small staff (about six employees in total) means Jeffcote often works 90-hour weeks, with his wife coming in some mornings as early as 5 a.m. to start prepping dough for the day.

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Jeffcote’s unusual route into restaurant ownership began with him building outdoor pizza ovens for Duxbury residents. The only problem, though, was nobody knew how to use them. So Jeffcote would teach them. Eventually it became clear he had a knack for making really good pizzas.

Quickly realizing the potential for a business, Jeffcote and his wife sprang into action.

Some people would describe Jeffcote as a perfectionist, unwavering in his pursuit of pizza and food excellence. But the truth is, Jeffcote is more of a food scientist, calculated and attentive to every aspect of the cooking process.

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“We take a hard stance on our food,” Jeffcote said. “We go all out. We’re extremely obsessive about it.” Everything in the kitchen, with the exception of the burger buns, is either locally sourced or made from scratch. Nothing comes in frozen.

His menu, which encompasses far more than just pizza, includes what Jeffcote calls “New England street food”: house-made vodka battered fish and chips, artisanal burgers, and specialty sandwiches they call “fatbreads,” which are filled with cheese and other savory ingredients, like chicken breast and handmade aiolis, and then grilled.

Fire & Stone in Duxbury serves what it calls "elevated takeout."
Fire & Stone in Duxbury serves what it calls "elevated takeout."Jakob Menendez

But the pizzas are the standouts here. The Duxbury Dragon, for example, has a nut-free basil pesto base and is layered with pepperoni, jalapenos, and fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano. The pizza cooks for about 90 seconds in the pizza oven and emerges crispy and ready to be devoured.

Longtime Duxbury resident Jim Chappuis, who owns My Little Bakery across the street, started coming to Fire & Stone in its parking lot days. “There’s nothing like it around. He really cares about the ingredients. If it isn’t good, he won’t put it out.”


Jakob Menendez can be reached at jakob.menendez@globe.com.