Tommy Cvitanovich and his family are known for Drago's Seafood Restaurant's (3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, 504-888-9254; Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 2 Poydras St. 504-584-3911; www.dragosrestaurant.com) signature char-broiled oysters, and they bought a fire truck to prepare the dish on location. They also ship char-broiled oyster kits nationwide. So it's no surprise Cvitanovich's newest venture also capitalizes on cooking over open flames. Fire House Burgers (3224 Edenborn Ave., Metairie, 504-875-4600; www.firehouse-burgers.com) will serve flame-grilled hamburgers. At press time it was scheduled to open this week.
"I've always loved burgers," Cvitanovich says. "It's always been one of my favorite meals, whether it's one of those great burgers at Port of Call or a drive-in, fast food burger. ... It's just something I've loved my whole life.
"The key to a great burger is the fire, but I also have to 'Drago-cize' it and put our butter garlic sauce on it. Leidenheimer is making a special bun for us — one that's a little bit sweet on the inside and nice and crusty on the outside."
The menu doesn't end with house-ground Black Angus patties topped with garlic butter. There are bacon-Swiss-mushroom burgers, Tex-Mex burgers topped with chili, fried onions and cheese, and a burger lodged between a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches. For sides, Fire House offers house-cut fries with garlic and truffle options, and nacho-inspired handmade potato chips topped with cheddar, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Turkey and veggie burgers also are available.
The Fire House Burgers location has special significance to the chef and restaurateur. "It used to be the old Ski Lodge bar," he says. "I used to party here back in Fat City's heyday." Most recently, the space housed Fat City Franks, and Cvitanovich purchased the restaurant from former owner Allen Bryant, and brought Bryant in as a partner in Fire House.
Fire House Burgers serves dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cvitanovich says he expects to add lunch service in coming weeks.