The original Oak Fire opened on La Cienega in 2007, keeping partygoers sated with wood-fired pizzas, salads and afternoon happy hours. With a brick oven instead of wood-burning (there's an elementary school right behind the restaurant, and the smoke would be bothersome), a full bar and specialty cocktails, 16 beers on tap plus an extensive bottle list, Sherman Oaksters have a new neighborhood hangout.
Had you gone to La Fondue Bourguignonne, the 40-year-old French restaurant Oak Fire replaced, you'd barely recognize the room. The ceilings were raised to reveal a pitched roof, which now has redwood paneling and skylights.
On the menu, appetizers skew towards meatballs, mozzarella marinara and chicken wings; more than 15 different pizzas come out of the brick oven, including Chicago-style deep dish; or you can opt for plates of pastas and grilled steaks and seafood. Morris says it's an amalgam of greatest hits from his other spots (The Oaks Gourmet, The Belmont and the original Oak Fire), something for everyone.
While he bills the place as super family-friendly, for the rest of us there's a daily happy hour and build-your-own Bloody Marys during weekend brunch. On Wednesdays, it's Slider Night featuring 15 different burgerettes. But the real bonus: The place stays open until 2 a.m. nightly.
"People don't have to drive over the hill anymore. There are a lot of great, cool Hollywood-type places opening here in the Valley now," says Morris. "Sherman Oaks is the new trend."
That doesn't mean he's done expanding in West Hollywood and Hollywood. Morris recently opened the Cutting Room, a rock-n-roll-themed club next to The Olive (also in his roster) at The Grafton on Sunset. The look is a cross between a bordello and a Rolling Stones rec room, circa 1975, with guitars and album covers hanging on the wall. Celebrity DJs tend to take over the tables on any given night, and the bartenders are prone to serve their version of a Jack and Coke--Coca-Cola foam lines on a black plate that you suck up with a straw followed by a shot of Jack Daniels.
"It's not a trendy, bottle-service, mixology kind of place," says Morris. "It's like a party in your living room with 80 of your closest friends." Yes, if one of your friends happens to be Tommy Lee.
With the success of The Oaks Gourmet Market on Franklin and Bronson in Hollywood, Morris has plans to open a gastropub, Franklin & Co., right around the corner in the soon-to-be-former Prizzi's space (it closes at the end of the month and will be moving to Burbank, according to a staffer). Think East Coast pub, with a tongue-in-cheek American forefathers theme.
Ideas bandied about for the pub include a "mug club" for regulars to hang their favorite stein on the wall, a full roster of unique and hard-to-find Belgian beers, clam bakes, lobster rolls, chowder and fish and chips.
That debut is a little ways off, but even while he chatted about it, Morris started brainstorming ideas for other places he'd like to open in the future. With so many under his belt (throw The Spanish Kitchen into the mix), why stop now?
Oak Fire Sherman Oaks opens for dinner at 4:30 p.m. tonight, April 6th, and adds lunch tomorrow.