New Albemarle downtown restaurant brings wood-fired flavor

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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The Albemarle downtown district has a new restaurant opening this week about which its owners hope people get fired up.

Christine’s Wood Fire announced on social media this week it was accepting reservations.

The restaurant, in the bottom of The Residences at The Albemarle Hotel building at 193 N. Second St., features a menu of wood-fired entrees.

Ryan Bybee, owner of the restaurant, said Christine’s is named for his grandmother, who was a Stanly native.

In an insert for his menu, Bybee talked about his grandmother, saying she “taught me to love unconditionally. She was beyond her years in welcoming everyone into her home, especially her kitchen…I make it a point to share her recipes, approach to food, and inviting spirit with our team.”

With a wood-fired oven imported from Italy, Christine’s will feature wood-fired craft pizza using real Italian ingredients, from the dough to the sauce and toppings.

Bybee said the unique properties of the smoke from the oven helps to flavor whatever is made in it.

The menu also features cedar plank salmon, steaks, crab cakes, scallops, stuffed chicken breast and more.

“It’s like a craft pizza and a modified steakhouse had a baby,” Bybee said.

“Christine’s Wood Fire is an elevated local eatery celebrating you, each other, and for any reason,” according to the menu insert. “She loved making everyone feel special, and while indeed a tall order, that is our aspiration for you with every visit.”

The base menu also has salads and appetizers, and will have a specialized chef’s menu separate from the regular entrees.

One special side dish the restaurant will have is skillet corn, a spicy corn dish similar to Mexican street corn.

The decor of the restaurant hearkens back in time to when the space was the lobby of the hotel. The original floors and windows are intact, with a bar built around some of the original bricks from what was back in the day a fireplace.

“We want you to come in and have feelings of nostalgia, even if you have never been here,” Bybee said.

He added his hopes for the restaurant are for people to “celebrate life’s events, and also just come in on a casual night and get a pizza and a beer. But I definitely want it to feel like you’re getting an experience here.”

Christine’s extends into what was the dining room before and extends seating to 102, along with a full bar with craft beer and cocktails.

Bybee credited Stokes Construction of Albemarle for its efforts in getting the restaurant ready.

Christine’s will feature dinner service Tuesday through Saturday nights and may in the future have a Sunday brunch service, according to Bybee. Hours will be 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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