Trattoria Delia in Burlington, VT | Best New England Restaurants with Fireplaces
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Trattoria Delia
For restaurants that aim for any sense of seasonality, winter inspires a shift toward warming foods: hearty braises, cozy baked pastas, roasted vegetables, and notes of citrus to brighten the mood. It’s what we crave when temperatures dip and nights grow long. And if we’re really lucky, we find a spot where those delicious foods are served within view of a live fire, whether wood-burning or gas-fueled. It’s a small detail among many, but one that has the ability to turn a dinner out into something more transporting and much more romantic. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite New England restaurants with fireplaces to help you navigate the chilly weeks ahead.
Housed in an aptly named 18th-century barn loft, this restaurant-within-a-winery boasts a gorgeous double-sided stuccoed fireplace for maximum coziness. The room’s vibe, all whitewashed beams and ladderback chairs, is a little bit colonial, a little bit Provençal. Cooking is done on a wood-burning Aztec oven, so even the food (we love the Delmonico steak) comes with a kiss of smoke.
At this James Beard–nominated restaurant, housed in a 17th-century mill building, chef Tyler Anderson walks a smart line between comfort (gnocchi with short ribs) and innovation (a savory tapioca custard infused with the flavors of creamy clam chowder). We call it “new New England cooking,” and it’s best enjoyed in the glow of the fireplace in the downstairs lounge, or, for that matter, overlooking the Hop Brook waterfall.
Danielle Johnson and Justin Walker made their mark on Maine’s food scene, first at Arrows in Ogunquit, then at Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport. With Walkers, they’ve taken the good bones of the former Cape Neddick Inn (which includes several working fireplaces) and added an accessibly inventive menu built on produce that the couple grows on their own farm. Linguini and clams are jazzed up with charred lemon, a house salad with ranch is made with just-picked produce and house-made dressing, and local swordfish is gently poached in olive oil.
The brick-and-soapstone hearth at the heart of Fore Street isn’t merely decorative. It’s where fresh fish, meats, and vegetables are grilled, roasted, and turned on a spit over hardwoods and fruit woods. Visible from most every table, this hearth provides its own form of dinner theater. Owner Sam Hayward was a pioneer in the locavore movement long before farm-to-table was a concept (the restaurant opened in 1996), so his live-fire cooking always begins with exceptional ingredients.
There are many working fireplaces in this converted 18th-century farmhouse, but the real workhorse is the giant hearth, constructed of fieldstone, that dominates the converted barn. There, during the restaurant’s weekly Fireplace Feasts (November-April), prime rib is cooked on an authentic Roasting Jack over cherry wood, chowder is boiled, and iron pokers are heated to glowing, then plunged into spiced cider and wine just the way early Americans did. The Salem family has mastered the intricacies of traditional hearth cooking, and the proof of their skill is in the delicious multicourse feast to follow.
The modern bistro decor and double-sided fireplace could be reason enough to recommend this chic eatery between Harvard Square and Central Square, but add homemade pasta, a superlative Bolognese sauce made with gochujang (a sweet-spicy Korean chili paste), jewel-like crudos, and one of our favorite roast chicken dishes, and you have an all-around winner.
The library room at this perpetual hot spot (located on the site of the former Locke-Ober) is stocked with visual distractions: plush chairs, carved wood, an irreverent portrait of a tattooed JFK (one famous former patron). But the gilded fireplace, original to the space, is its crowning glory. Enjoy it while downing complex dishes, a veritable global mashup of flavors, that manage to come together into something coherent and delicious. Don’t miss the chicken and quinoa meatballs with Chinese garlic sauce and spicy mayo or the grilled “viper” (pork) chop.
Driving up to this glowing compound on a snowy night yields one of the prettiest sights in the entire state. Inside, the formal Dining Room is really a series of seven rooms, many with fireplaces, so you can have your pick of cozy spots. The menu is classic elegance — filets, lemon sole, mushroom bisque — but the kitchen is serious about local sourcing, with impressive New England cheese plates served alongside local eggs, seafood, maple syrup, and produce.
A long, modern hearth separates the lounge from the dining room at this Hanover standout. Five years ago, chef Justin Dain, working with consulting chef Michael Schlow, transformed a traditional inn concept into a sleek, seasonally inspired destination with global small plates, richly layered entrees (slow-roasted salmon with couscous, eggplant hummus, cauliflower, almonds, and mint), and a cocktail program that runs from infused gins to house-made bitters).
It’s fitting that America’s oldest tavern (c. 1673) should boast four wood-burning fireplaces. But don’t let the rough-hewn wood beams, early Americana, and Windsor chairs food you: This is not a Ye Olde Tourist Trappe. Executive chef Rich Silvia runs a serious food program, with local sourcing, house-made charcuterie, a legendary lobster mac and cheese, and a Narragansett Bay bouillabaisse that a Marseillais might envy.
As an inn, one of the Four Columns’ claims to fame is an abundance of fireplaces (and jacuzzi tubs), and that romantic vibe runs right through the house restaurant. The room is rustic and airy, anchored by a washed brick fireplace at one end. When the inn first opened in the 1960s, its French owners were embracing farm-to-table principles well before Alice Waters rose to fame in California. The inn boasted a trout-stocked pond, chickens and pigs, game birds, and a large vegetable garden. Today, chef Erin Bevan honors that heritage, building the menu around local treasures like apples and quince from nearby Scott Farm, produce from Dutton’s Berry Farm, and cheeses from Parish Hill Creamery.
When Trattoria Delia opened 25 years ago, authentic Italian dishes like squid ink pasta and grilled octopus were a novelty. But original owners Thomas and Lori Delia, who had traveled extensively in Italy, thought Vermonters were ready — and they were right. Modeling their concept on the cozy trattorias of Italy’s northern Val d’Aosta, they lined the interior of a basement space with wood from a defunct New Hampshire sugarhouse and made a focal point of a gorgeous stone fireplace. Now under new ownership, this Burlington favorite remains true to its original vision: gorgeous pastas, hearty flavors, and an abundant Italian wine list.
Have you been to other great New England restaurants with fireplaces? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.