Where to Prairie Fire, an inviting neighborhood retreat that replaces Brookline special-occasion spot Lineage. It’s from the team behind another inviting neighborhood retreat, Milton’s Steel & Rye.
What for Good cheer and easy-to-share food that emerges from a roaring oven, visible from the lively (not crowded) bar: Crisp margherita pizzas, fire-roasted eggplant, wood-roasted potatoes and oysters.
The scene Unpretentious — the perfect place to satisfy your book club, parents, or picky teens. A group of young friends pose for selfies in a corner. Another group of co-workers sip wine and vent about a persnickety colleague. A few couples linger at the bar, sharing pizzas, warmed by the crackling fire. There are no trendy aspirations here, it seems: not much on the dark yellow walls; simple votive candles on the wooden tables; and a buttery soundtrack of Sly and the Family Stone.
What you’re eating Pizza, pasta, roasted vegetables. Pizzas are crisp and stretchy, with just the notion of char. Toppings are reassuringly straightforward: charred greens, mushrooms, white anchovies, fennel sausage. There are a few house-made pastas; try the squid-ink campanelle with spicy lobster arrabiata, green onion, and crisp garlic. (Just don’t kiss anyone afterward. They’re serious about the garlic.) Lighter eaters can snack on grilled vegetables (eggplant with sweet peppers and pine nuts, potatoes with pecorino and wax peppers), oysters, or tuna carpaccio.
Care for a drink? There’s a healthy wine list, a respectable local beer roster (Jack’s Abby, Lord Hobo), and recognizable cocktails like gin and tonic and an old-fashioned. Fun sodas, too: cucumber, grilled pineapple, strawberry-basil.
Overheard Tales of boozing, brown-nosing, backyard barbecues, and bad photos. “This guy I know didn’t want his girlfriend to know he was still drinking, but I saw him out, and he was like, ‘Ssh! Don’t tell!’ ” a man tells his date at the bar, shaking his head. “The H.R. manager’s son got into Princeton. Don’t ask me who he kissed up to,” a woman hisses to a table of pals. Two friends get up from their seats at the bar and head toward the door. “I moved to JP just so I could grill with fire pits,” one informs the other. A woman accidentally takes a photo with her phone, causing a bright flash to go off in the faces of three unsuspecting diners. “Do you know us?” one asks, mock-shocked. “Yes! I’m your paparazzi!” the hapless shutterbug replies.
242 Harvard St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, 617-396-8199, www.prairiefirebrookline.comThe Quick Bite column is not a restaurant review, rather a first look and scene-setter. Kara Baskin can be reached at email@example.com.