When looking to grab a bite to eat or to drink with some friends in Downtown Binghamton, you may want to go somewhere hip, contemporary, affordable and of course, filled with delicious options. Chances are, you’ll stumble upon places like Dos Rios Cantina or The Colonial. These staples have gained popularity over the years, particularly among college students in the area. The Stone Fox is looking to be another one of those staples.

Located at 15 Hawley St., on the corner of Washington Street, The Stone Fox celebrated its soft opening on Sept. 30. The restaurant features fast-fired artisanal pizza as the menu’s main focus, alongside salads and starters. While the menu alone diverts from that of Dos Rios Cantina and The Colonial, The Stone Fox managed to maintain a similar atmosphere since all three restaurants are owned by the same group, led by developer Yaron Kweller and several partners.

Anna Scott, a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, works as a counter server and food runner at The Stone Fox. When asked about the overwhelming attitude toward the opening of a third restaurant, Scott recounted how her own experiences with dining in Downtown Binghamton encouraged her to join the team at The Stone Fox.

“I loved the atmosphere at Dos [Rios Cantina] and [The] Colonial and knew that they would keep that energy going at The Stone Fox,” Scott said.

With a large bar inside, an extensive double-deck layout and outdoor fireplaces, the owners acquired an ambitious platform to kickstart The Stone Fox. Scott compared the atmosphere at The Stone Fox to Dos Rios Cantina and The Colonial by pointing out their consistent social overtones. When I visited, the workers were fast-paced, seating us almost immediately after we were greeted and doing their best to tend to each section among the socially-distant seating plan. It is evident how much energy the staff possesses as they navigate the interior, exterior and upper levels.

The Stone Fox presented itself with a youthful bar vibe, but it did not forget to abide by the social distancing guidelines. When you get to the restaurant, the first thing you have to do is to provide your name and phone number so that they can contact you for COVID-19 tracing or to notify you of any possible exposure. Once seated, customers can order either through a QR code you can scan on your phone or a kiosk at the bar. Masks are required for anyone who is not seated at their tables, which are six feet apart. If someone is not wearing a mask at the appropriate time, visiting spaces with alternate parties or failing to meet safety standards, security and staff will immediately enforce these guidelines. Scott said she noticed that the majority of people have been complying with these rules in order to assure a friendly, yet safe environment.

The great atmosphere comes in accordance with its menu counterpart. The main feature of the menu is fast-fired artisanal pizza, but it also includes salads, “bites” and an extensive drink list. Pizzas range between $11 and $16 — unless you decide to add caviar for an extra $100. These prices were held up to standards through sufficient serving sizes. I ordered a Margherita pizza, which appeared to be one of the most popular options that I saw coming out of the kitchen. The pizza was thin, cooked to be softer than I am used to, but with a wonderful doughy flavor. The sauce on the pie, like the Caesar salad, had a unique flavoring that was distinctive, but one I would definitely recommend.

Despite opening less than two weeks prior to my visit and dealing with COVID-19 dining guidelines, such as 50 percent indoor capacity and limits on party sizes, The Stone Fox has managed to organize its system efficiently. I never had to wait for the staff to assist me, which is impressive for a busy Friday night. Although I was not a fan of the self-serve water station, given the scale of the restaurant and attempts to minimize contact with servers, it was understandable that it was there. Nonetheless, service overall was proficient and accommodating, meeting the expectations that Scott had laid out.

If you are looking to try a new place, for any occasion, visit The Stone Fox. It is open from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. After 11:00 p.m., limited menus are provided to focus on drinks and starters. The Stone Fox is also available through GrubHub, DoorDash or restaurant pickup.