Restaurateur Dan Kerrigan opened Prairie Fire at 242 Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner on September 1, and it has rapidly become a neighborhood staple. The cozy space serves up homemade pizza, pasta and vegetables roasted in their wood-fired oven.

The interior design is simple and welcoming, centered on the wood-fired oven behind the bar, which brings cozy warmth to the eatery. Bartenders and chefs work in tandem in the space chatting with guests and slinging drinks and pizzas with ease. The result is an atmosphere more akin to eating at a close friend’s house than a restaurant.

The sister venture of Steel & Rye in Milford, Prairie Fire offers a similar locally sourced American menu, centered on the oven. “The high heat creates a product you can’t get elsewhere,” says Kerrigan. The name Prairie Fire came from a combined love of Americana inspired dishes and the textural taste of wood-fired food. Their wood-fired oysters are one of the most popular appetizers, bringing a smoky flavor to New England’s favorite raw delicacy.

Other culinary favorites include the squid ink campanelle with lobster arrabiata and the fennel sausage pizza. Chef Brendan Joy works directly with his suppliers to create a menu that’s both delicious and sustainable. Kerrigan recalls a time when the restaurant farmers recommended Joy make something with the green leaves on broccoli plants, an often wasted product. Joy roasted the greens with garlic and toasted seeds, and they were the most popular dish at the restaurant for weeks.

Though craft cocktails are available, the crown jewels of the bar offerings are the beer and wine menus. Of the 40 wines offered, 20 are ordered by the glass, an effort to break the typical bottle-heavy ratio. Kerrigan speaks of the beer list like a proud father, noting both the local favorites like Trillium and Night Shift and the international offerings such as Reissdorf (Germany) and De la Senne (Belgium).

For Kerrigan, a Brookline local, the location is particularly personal. “I’ve been here for 11 years, and I love this community,” he says. When he learned the former restaurant Lineage was closing, Kerrigan wanted to continue its legacy as a neighborhood meeting ground. “I’m hoping it becomes a place folks utilize as their second kitchen,” he says.

Starting in December, the restaurant will be open all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 AM, in addition to their evening weekday hours. Kerrigan also hopes to bring brunch options to the menu. “Coolidge Corner is a defined neighborhood,” says Kerrigan. “There’s very much a passion and diversity here. We want to bring value to that community.”

by Celina Colby

The 8th Brookline Youth Awards will be held on Wednesday, April 11 from 7 pm – 9 pm at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. The evening, which is held annually, features video interviews of outstanding teens as well as teen performances. Award recipients either live in or go to school in Brookline. Nominations for this year’s award ceremony begin on February 7 and run through March 2.