Bufalina Pizza on East Cesar Chavez: My God, It's Full of Pies

Steven Dilley's long-awaited eatery cooks up a savory taste of Naples

Fire in the piehole.
Fire in the piehole.

What do Indians & Italians have in common?

Sounds maybe like a joke, right? But: You know when a round of naan is baked in a tandoor oven and it comes out with those little burnt areas on the most bubbled-up parts and it's so warm and chewy and perfect?

That's what the wood-fired Stefano Ferrara oven does to the (excellent) dough that Bufalina builds its pizzas on – pizzas with ingredients so fresh they should probably be slapped before you eat the first slice.

Don't know how recently the herbs on the two pies the Chronicle's Richard Whittaker and I devoured were ripped from the garden – hours? minutes? – but the store itself has been a long time coming since Steven Dilley started fomenting it in 2011. But, ah, the relentless red-tape dragons of ATX bureaucracy have finally been slain, and now the memory of the joint's broccoli-rabe-and-sausage pie, especially, will be happily echoing through our taste buds for years to come.

(Overshadowed, no doubt, by the memories of the pizzas & more eaten there in the coming weeks and months, yes: Bufalina is not a place you go to only once – not if you enjoy exquisite food in a casual, elegantly bare-bones setting.)

My good fortune: I got an email the other day, an invitation from Sonia Dutton, former owner of Champion Contemporary Art, said I should come to the family-and-friends soft opening of the restaurant her boyfriend has been working on for years. Figured, hell yes, who am I to turn down a preview of any local nommatorium – besides that Dutton-the-curator had always steered me right in matters of visual aesthetics. And so grabbed the nearest ginger Brit I could find – hello, Richard! – and hied us to the Eastside, to the corner of Comal and Cesar Chavez, to engage up close and personal with a pizzacentric Neapolitan feast.

(Well, Neapolitan, yes, but with beverage choices that feature [besides a fine array of Italian and French wines] a slate of locally brewed beers – because it's not just about regional, it's about excellence, and you already know Austin's hops-heads have crafted up several varieties of liquid amber heaven …)

So, now, so much for the "soft opening," which was packed with lucky locals sitting on benches alongside the picnic-style tables and devouring fresh salads and artisanal cheese and savory wood-fired pies and swilling (excuse me: sophisticatedly sipping) wine and beer. Because now Bufalina is open for everyone – for dinner, Wednesdays through Sundays – and this city's general pizzascape is all the better for it.

Bufalina Pizza

1519 E. Cesar Chavez, #200 512/524-2523


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