Bruno’s…On Fire

Bruno Pizza

Sometimes you light a fire with a match and sometimes you get really lucky and a couple of talented chefs rub their hands together and sparks fly. That’s what we have here. The combo of Dave Gulino, Justin Slojkowski (formerly the innovators at Box Kite) along with partner Demien Repucci have lighted a blaze that is igniting the pizza community, as well as focusing on just downright imaginative beautiful food. These guys are beyond creative and the hands on, charming, low profile attitude infuses every bite, every design flourish you ingest. This is no foam to table enterprise.

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There’s whimsy in this plywood lair. From the wacky yet no nonsense tables and chairs hand built by the guys themselves to dishes that include ingredients like black cashew cream, succulents and yes…handpicked by some of the posse members in actual Bushwick, Brooklyn…mulberries. Locavore at it’s dastardly finest.

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The dishes, the actual plates…I mean really. Love them.

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We started with three out of the current six appetizers and I don’t have one favorite, I have …uh huh…three. Damn, they’re all good.

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Local fluke with snap peas, uni, ocean herbals, mulberry and quinoa. Glorious. But here’s the thing, this is where the mulberries come into play. Chef Dave and cohorts picked them in Bushwick. They had an idea and they ran with it. The inspiration and thinking that goes into their menu is what makes their particular world tilt on its axis and you happily roll with it. They’re tap dancing through their kitchen on the head of a pin and suffice it to say – lick it and stick it.

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Fairytale Eggplant was so simple but perfectly constructed and absolutely delicious. With shishito, opal basil, nutritional yeast and black cashew. The black cashew, which included an aspect of vegetable charcoal was reminiscent of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song where they sing “…black gold, Texas tea” and this here is black gold.

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Definitely some of the most perfectly cooked diver scallops I’ve ever had. Served with local beans, sheep’s milk yogurt and amaranth.

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Something that Bruno’s brings to the pizza tavola is their new and very impressive Kickstarter raised machine for milling their own 00 flour, which is also domestically sourced. I’m proud to say that I made a minimal but supportive contribution and got a free pizza for my efforts. Very kind. Their months of developing the right recipe and techniques for their flour/crust was well worth it. Whatever they’re doing with that machine in the basement, they’re doing it right. A soft crackle as your teeth grazes the edge of your slice, and then that neapolitan chew of delight, a pillowy inside to the light crunch, with a flavor of wheat berries and a hint of whiskey.

We had three pizzas and I look forward to trying the others before their seasonal menu likely changes. Any of the pizzas can be made as vegetarian too.

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And the detail…

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Local mushrooms, béchamel and scallions. Holy funghi.

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Summer greens with ricotta, carrot top pesto, zucchini, noodlefish, chili.

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A Margherita that broke the routine barrier for several reasons. Astonishing mozzarella from Capouto Brothers, canned tomatoes, fermented tomatoes and whaa?? lovage. These guys invite you to dine to the beat of their different drum.

Because that wasn’t enough food, ha! we had to add a pasta. A distinctive, toothsome, wondrous pasta.

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The Bucatini with fresh corn, gold bar, squash blossoms and spring onion is summer on the plate, and a pool party in your mouth.

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Olive oil gelato with charred blueberry compote, borage powder and cashew was layers of softness shrouded in pings of varying flavors and made for a meltingly gorgeous finale.

Design elements are perfunctory chic. A cacophony of plywood and innovation. It’s spare, thoughtful, practical, not entirely uncomfortable (!) and provides the canvas for the stellar cooking which is really why you came.

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Bruno’s has employed the burgeoning idea of a no tipping policy recently done at Dirt Candy. Customers pay a 20% administration fee included on the check in lieu of any gratuity. More forward thinking, pay your employees fairly. Also, at the moment it’s BYOB. I’m sure that will change soon when their liquor license comes through but it’s always fun to bring your libation of choice.

I had arrived earlier than my two compatriots for a girl’s night and had time to peruse the small but engrossing menu. As my first pal arrived I said, here’s what my dream ordering would be. It might be a lot, but I don’t think I can give anything up, think we can handle it? She glanced through the choices and said, oh yeah, we can do this. So glad we did.

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Bruno’s Pizza
204 East 13th Street
212.598.3080

Monday – Saturday 630-midnight

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