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restaurant that uses wood for cooking dinner

IT WAS THE UNMISTAKABLE SWEET AROMA SWIRLING THROUGH THE AIR THAT FIRST CAUGHT MY ATTENTION. As I followed my nose, I then focused on a tall wrought iron rack, stacked high with split oak. Naturally I became curious. As I walked passed the firewood rack and through the doorway, I was transported to a scene straight from an Old Havana courtyard with exotic tropical foliage and vintage décor. That sweet flavored scent of burning wood was now blending smoothly with all the restaurant’s culinary aromas.

“There was no doubt where I was having dinner that evening”

Ahhh…my dinner. “The Mixed Grill” …Black Angus steak, jumbo shrimp, chicken breast and chorizo sausage hot off a wood-fired grill!
This is part of the restaurant’s wood supply. Chef Chino says they use Oak wood because of its hardwood characteristics which provide a hot and steady burn. He also adds wood briquettes to help keep the heat even across the grill.

Located in the Tropicana Casino downtown Atlantic City, USA, the Cuba Libre Restaurant is cooking things up with an authentic menu of classic and contemporary Cuban cuisine. This fine dining restaurant offers a wonderful culinary experience. It features an open style kitchen where you can watch any one of the skilled chefs sear meats and seafood to perfection… all on a wood-fired grill.

Chef Chino rustles the wood embers while grilling my dinner. Notice the crank wheel to his left. It adjusts the cooking surface according to the heat and the rise and fall of the flames. Also take note of the slight angle to the v-channels. They are angled down to capture all the juices to be used for baking and sauce preparation.

I am discovering more and more restaurants using wood as a means to cook their culinary specialties. If you find yourself hungry while in Atlantic City NJ, be sure to stop by the Cuba Libre’ restaurant. They offer a few of their signature dishes prepared specifically over the hot coals of a wood fire.


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always smokin bbq sign at the joint restaurant


It’s early morning and a blue-sky day begins with 70° temps, and a slow rising southern sun. I’m visiting New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, and a city renowned for its colorful parades and exuberant celebrations. Today’s adventure within this Mississippi River town lures me past venues streaming Dixieland-style melodies, acoustic blues and a touch of just about every other musical genre. There’s culture too, with French and Spanish influence boasting its architecture up and down the sidewalks, firmly planted in this historic town.

There’s no doubt that music and excitement are a draw for this touristy mecca but there’s more. When you’re hungry, and the delectable aromas from some of the south’s most treasured recipes tempt your appetite, it’s time to eat! And as usual, when I’m craving food, I turn to Janet, my fiancée and trusted travel planner. She’s great for making sure our trips are the best they can be, especially when it comes to our dinners. She’s either cooking a tasty plate herself, or tracking down the hot spots where the locals hang out. This time around she’s discovered a “best kept secret” located in the Bywater neighborhood, on the corner of Marantz and Royal.


We decided to walk to this restaurant, taking in the various neighborhoods and offbeat places that tour guides don’t have the time to show. It wasn’t long before an unmistakable aroma swirled our way while we passed through this unfamiliar neighborhood. I could taste this flavored smell through my nose and instantly I knew that somewhere close, there was food being prepared over a fire.


We followed that delicious smoky flavor and we arrived at our destination…The Joint. Of course it’s overcrowded with hungry customers, and that’s a good sign. I start eyeing their plates, piled high with ribs, pulled pork, beef briskets, Mac n Cheese, Cole slaw and more.  We find a table, place our order, and soon a taste of heaven is served in front of us. We say nothing for 10 minutes, only “humming” sounds can be heard as we indulge in scrumptious euphoria.


After congratulating Janet on yet another job well done on finding such a great place for dinner, naturally, I’m curious on how our mouthwatering meal was cooked and prepared. I sneak back past the kitchen and I am confronted by a young gentleman bearing the traditional black and white chef colors on his knee-length apron and over-sized floppy hat. Thank goodness he was friendly, and eager to “show and tell” the secret to his melt-in-your-mouth meats and their delicious flavors.

Just as I thought…they’re using firewood! He proceeded to show me the large smokers and the wood they used for the heat. I asked if he had any tips to offer those who burn wood to cook their food. “If there is any secret at all, it’s keeping the fire at a constant temperature, be consistent with the flavor, and know exactly how long to keep each food item on the grill”. “And that’s it!”, he offered with a smile and the wink of an eye. He also added that he uses hardwood (Live Oak) for slow, hot burns, and wood chips for more flavor.

Below are 2 pics showing The Joint’s hardwood supply and their transportable smoker.


Some of the tastiest recipes in all the south…cooked to perfection…using wood.

They burn in The Big Easy!



Anyone using wood to cook their food? CONTACT US or leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.

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This large copper dome oven burns wood to make designer pizza and desserts too!

outdoors wood burning copper oven

Wood-fired pizza!

There’s nothing like the taste of pizza that was baked using firewood. If you ever get the chance to visit the Finger Lakes in New York State, be sure to stop by The Copper Oven at Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery to try some of their wood-fired pizza (their desserts are baked in the same oven too!). Right smack dab in the middle of wine country, nestled alongside Cayuga Lake is the home of this family run winery.

We decided to feature them because of the very special way they prepare most of their entire menu. They use firewood to heat and add that unique flavor to their freshly-prepared cuisine. Congrats to The Copper Oven for using a natural, renewable resource such as wood to cook their foods!