Saturday, August 3, 2013
Adventure #67: Bufalina
The adventure to Bufalina, which doesn't even have a sign on the door it is so new, began with Adam and I enjoying "Today's mozzarella", pictured above. That salad is everything that is right with the Austin pizza scene right now. It seems that recently the newest pizza places have paid a lot of attention to creating the perfect pizza experience. From Pieous with its paper plates, chalk on the walls, inspirational quotes, and the feeling of being with family, to Winflo Osteria with its focus on being an upscale, clean, and an Austin-style way to experience real Italian food. Bufalina falls between them: Cozy and minimal with picnic tables in the center, carafes of water, and the pizza oven jutting out into the dining area.
The "today's mozzarella" salad, by the way, was perfection. The breakdown: Fresh mozzarella (made in house) drizzled with a dressing that we think was olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and then covered with spicy arugula and heirloom cherry tomatoes.
As far as the pizza goes, it was delicious. We ordered the "calabrese" (above) which came with tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami, and roasted peppers and the "marinara" (below) which is simply tomato sauce, garlic, and oregano.
Ian felt that both pizzas had a lot of nuance of flavor and I agree. They were the kind of slices that you let sit in your mouth for a moment so that you can sort through the flavors and appreciate how they work together.
The crust was very chewy and this is probably where the only contention in our party was. It wasn't until a few days later, eating at another pizza place, that I realized why I wasn't super-thrilled with the crust even though I'm usually a fan of chewy: I didn't taste the char on it. Despite the perfect looking leopard spotting on the tops, if you look at the upskirt shot, you'll notice how clean and white it is. Char, for those of you who haven't yet ventured into wood-fired pizza, is the "burned" outer surface of the crust and the burned flour that accumulates on the floor of the oven and seasons it. The urge to think that burned things are dry and unappetizing is not at all true for wood-fire-cooked pizza. The oven cooks things so fast that the inside stays nice and moist and chewy while the outside gains flavor. Lots of things can affect how a pizza cooks in this kind of oven (like humidity, coldness of the dough, the wood), so if you get a pizza with the perfect amount of char it is a thing of beauty.
Bufalina is well worth checking out. I'd like to see if the char issue was just that day (or just those pizzas), so you can bet that I will be back.