Tuesday, March 1, 2016


That is not Darth Vader on the wall: it is Bruno.  Giordano Bruno, specifically, a monk far ahead of his time, who was considered an uproarious heretic for his unconventional, forward-thinking philosophies.  While Bruno (the restaurant) can definitely be categorized as unique, it is in no way controversial.  The only dissent might stem from why they added "pizza" to the name, because Bruno Pizza is so much, much more than a slice joint.

That said, it's pizza is something
 to behold.  They mill local grains in house for ultimately fresh whole grain flours that in turn produce a chewy, pliant crust full of grainy, nutty flavor just kissed with a smoky char from the oven.  I was disappointed that garlic mushroom pizza was not available upon my visit: in fact, it is still listed on the website menu but is not in the rotation at the moment.  The g.m. said he doesn't keep pie flavors around too long so as to continue inspiring creativity from the chef, and while that's all well and good, somebody needs to update the menu to keep things accurate... and avoid the discontent of unavailable menu items.  But our meatball pie made up for the loss by leaps and bounds, saucy daubs of zesty amatriciana coddle melted caciocavallo and small, crisped meatballs.  The raw onion gave a little more bite than maybe was necessary, but the perfection attained by the whole wheat crust is so distractingly wonderful it was hard to even recall that complaint.

 Beyond pizza, of which there were seven options from a simple margherita to a decadent 'nduja version with pork, potato, ricotta and egg yolk- a force to be reckoned with, for sure.  Pastas are similarly hearty: the whole wheat versions using our indigenous grains certainly tend more substantial than delicate, but the accoutrements
 present a complimentary balance.  Gnudi are dense parcels, but lovely frills of greenery and tender chunks of razor clam keep things from getting too leaden.  Knotroot, which I believe are crosnes) add more earthiness, and bursts of trout roe add a fresh, oceanic salinity.... and a hint of decadence.   Pasta options change as frequently as the pizzas do, but you can expect more novel additions like these, or uni, or more traditional renditions featuring guanciale or wild mushrooms. 
But lest we relegate ourselves to carbohydrates, the Market section of the menu presents itself with more flora and fauna, while keeping everything appropriate to the calendar.  Ridiculously juicy beets keep their sturdiness,  and while their partnership with goat cheese is nothing new, adding earthy parsnip to the puree lightens the goatiness and focuses the sweetness of the beets.  Tart little husk cherries add a flash of gold and toasted quinoa dusted overall imparts a delightful crunch.  But the best dish of all, in my opinion, was a stellar plate of roasted 
brussels sprouts mixed with nubs of shishito pepper, bedded in a savory apple butter and topped with a cloud of whipped Dorset cream.  I couldn't eat this fast enough to avoid sacrificing any to my tablemate.  Order one for both of you; it's a big enough portion, to be sure, but the thing is you won't want to share any of it.   None.  Less can be said for the local squid with tardivo.  The flavors of this visually striking dish are wonderful, but the squid was a little too vigorous of chew, and this discouraged the rest of the components to colligate.  Too bad, too, because the inky trompe 
l'oeil puree on the plate isn't squid ink but fruity, funky black garlic.  Give these tentacles a little less time on the flattop and we would have a real winner.
As another indication we are not in an ordinary pizza place, Bruno offers a lovely deuce of composed desserts.   We didn't save enough room to try them, but they both sounded and looked elegant and well-composed.  A brown butter gelato with apple and pepitas... and porcini meringue? I might not trust such a proposal somewhere other than Bruno.  But far as I can tell, he and I... well, we're definitely seeing eye to eye.
Custom-graffitied plate.

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