Monday, 8 September 2014

Pizza Well Worth the Visit at Kerrisdale's Bufala

Tastiness Factor: 9/10

Atmosphere: 4/5

Service: 3.5/5

Locavore approved?  YES- Unlike many of the other upscale pizza joints around town that focus on authentic ingredients for their pies, Bufula has taken the local road.  The flour for the crust comes from Saanichton Farm on Vancouver Island, while the sauce is made from local tomatoes.  Toppings also sing "local", with seasonal produce and local meat/seafood.  While they will not be getting the VPN certification anytime soon, that is not what they are going for, and I think their local approach is what will set them apart from their competition.

Kerrisdale is not an area that is known for its good eats.  But with the appearance of a new kid on the block, that may change.

The new kid's name is Bufula, and in her few short months since opening, she has made great strides with long line ups for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.  After eating there last night for the first time, a totally get what all of the hype is about.

When we arrived at 8:30 on a Friday night, there was a 45 minute wait.  There was no space at the bar so they offered to call us when a table was ready.   We walked down the street to 41st to find a place to have a drink but were surprised to discover that the only places that were open at that time in the evening were coffee shops and sushi bars.  So what was the next best option?  The White Spot right next door to Bufala.  Since it is pretty much the only place within walking distance, it has likely seen its evening business skyrocket over the last several months, with customers that are either too hungry to wait for a seat, or those like us who are killing time while waiting.  I must say, they actually have a few decent BC wines on the menu and surprisingly cheap local beers!

When we were finally summoned back to Bufula at around 9:15, the place was still packed.  Although I quite liked the room due its high energy and hip vibe, I should note that the space is quite cramped with communal seating down the middle, booths on one side and the bar/kitchen on the other.  This is therefore not the ideal place for a first date or work meeting, but well suited to a get-together with friends.  We were seated at the communal table which worked fine for us, but my choice would have been one of the cozy-looking booths if I had the choice.  We enjoyed peering into the large open kitchen behind the bar, where we could watch the chefs hard at work making the pies and taking them out of the pizza oven.

Service started off a bit slow, which was understandable considering how busy they were when we were first seated.  After the server finally got around to taking our orders, however, our starters came out in decent time.  It should be noted (and our server did forewarn us) that the food arrives family-style so if guests are ordering personal pizzas like we all did, they will not all arrive at the same time.  Most of our pizzas came out a bit too quick, when we were only half way through our appetizers, while our friend ended up waiting about 10 minutes for his pizza after ours.  The servers themselves seemed pretty run off their feet and did not have much time to walk us through the menu but when things got a bit quieter at the end of the night, they were happy to chat with us.

Bufula is fortunate to have Josh Pape at the helm of its bar program.  Pape has won numerous accolades for his work in many great Vancouver restaurants and is doing great things now at Bufula.  The cocktail list is succinct, with only a handful of classic aperitif cocktails and a few original cocktails.  My friend and I both sampled from the original cocktail list.

Westside (Vodka, basil, lemoncello, soda)- I am not one for sweet cocktails so the lemon-basil combo was just perfect for me.

Rossini (prosecco and strawberry puree)- For those who are looking for something sweet, my friend's classy cocktail definitely delivered.

In keeping with the cocktail menu, the food menu is also fairly short and sweet and consists of about 12 starters and 12 pizzas.  Being a pescatarian, I noticed that the menu is fairly meat heavy (most starters contain at least some meat) which is not all that surprising once you know that the co-owners are from Vancouver's meat-centric Wildebeest.  Vegetarians can take comfort in the fact that 5 pizzas are vegetarian-friendly so they will not leave hungry.

Here were our picks of the night:
Kale Caesar Salad- I never order Caesar salad but had read rave reviews about this one so I suggested we try it. This was honestly the best Caesar I have ever tasted.  Must to Hubby's delight, it came topped with 2 strips of bacon and an egg yolk on the top.  Although it was a tad overdressed for my liking, I loved the flavours in the dressing, and the kale held up really well to its richness.

Meatballs- The meat eaters at the table loved these very moist house-made meatballs.  Although I did not eat the meatballs themselves, I gladly helped myself to the side of bread that I used to soak up some of the tomato sauce.  The sauce was absolutely heavenly.  Not only was the tomato sauce bursting with flavour but it was mixed with creamy ricotta that brought each bite to a whole new level.

Bruschetta- This dish switches up daily depending on what is fresh and available (gotta love that!).  Out trio consisted of roasted red pepper/basil/goat cheese, mortadella/artichoke, and apple and walnut.  I loved the variety of flavour combinations and also appreciated the generous topping:bread ratio.

Pizzas- There are plenty of great pizza joints here in Vancouver (Farina, Barberella, Nicli) but I now feel pretty confident saying that my new favourite pizza of all is here at Bufula.  Interestingly, they do not use traditional flour and do not have a traditional pizza oven, and it was their crust that stole my heart.  So soft and chewy, with the perfect amount of char.  It is what every pizza crust should aspire to be.

The Funghi was the obvious choice for me (I am a mushroom fanatic) and, with its perfect crust and impressive variety and quantity of meaty mushrooms, this was my favourite funghi EVER.  Not to mention the perfect balance of pecorino and goat cheese, and the generous heap of watercress overtop.  I am salivating...

My friend's partner enjoyed the Bacon and Clam which he felt was reminiscent of a comforting bowl of clam chowder.  It was quite unique, with potato, thyme and little dollops of pickled mustard seeds over top.

Hubby and friend shared oxtail and kale, and the carpaccio.  Although Hubby enjoyed the Carpaccio which happened to be our server's favourite, he felt they really knocked it out of the park with the Oxtail and Kale complete with spicy peppers and aged cheddar.

Overall verdict?
Before going to Bufala, I questioned whether anther upscale pizza place in Vancouver was needed in Vancouver.  After eating here, I can answer my own question with a resounding YES!  I will say it again- Bufala is now home to my FAVOURITE pizza in the city, with its to-die-for crust and very unique flavour combinations.  There is no higher praise to give!

Bufala on Urbanspoon

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