Umami Mart Sake
Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Pizzeria Bruno was the one place I wanted to go during my visit to San Diego earlier this month. Mike Senese, television personality and hardcore pizzahead, had mentioned that it was, "easily the best pizza I've found in Southern California," so of course I had to try it.

I walked in and the first thing I noticed was this Forza Napoli soccer scarf.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Flashback to 2001 when I went to the AS Roma vs. Napoli game at the soccer stadium in Roma. I'm a big Totti fan (and Nakata played for Roma back then too), but for the sake of conversation, let's say Napoli won. The Romans then went apeshit in their rage, so much that it felt like the stadium would implode and collapse unto itself. Of course the Carabinieri (Italy's lazy pseudo-FBI police force) were there in full armor, ready for heavy combat to try to prevent blood from shedding on the streets of Breaderico Panini. Nonetheless useless as usual.

They take their football seriously in Europe. Very, very seriously. [Ask me about the AC Milan vs. Juventus game sometime. DRAMA!].

The scarf reminded me of all of this, particularly the Italians' unshakable dedication to their teams and their cities. And the one thing that is so quintessential to the city of Napoli, aside from their soccer team and creepyass train station (winner of the You-Will-Definitely-Get-Mugged-Here Award), is their pizza. It's a very unique style-- the paper-thin crust probably being the first and most important distinction.

I knew this would be a night of heavy pizza critiquing, as I went with two friends who I had traveled with to Napoli back in 2000. We all still treasure our memories of that trip, and, of course, the pizza. So the bar was set pretty high for Bruno. But that's ok, right? We should all have high standards when eating out. Especially for pizza.

We started with the Market Salad while we patiently waited for our pizzas. Generous shavings of parmigiano.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Spicy olive oil was placed on the table. This was a special sign from the pizza gods, as pizza houses in the U.S. NEVER have chili oil, which is such a staple in pizzerias in Italy.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

The classic Margherita: Tomato sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella di Bufala. Please take note of the char bubbles. Importantissimo.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

The mozzerella was $5 extra but totally worth it if you're interested in eating your pizza with the BEST CHEESE IN THE WORLD. At least on pizza.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

The Salami: Tomato sauce, mozzerella, reggiano, soppressata, and olives. Again, the char bubbles.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Isn't she luscious?

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

La Campania: Tomato sauce, mozzerella, mushrooms, fennel sausage, roasted onions.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

This pizza was my favorite. The sausage was flavorful, as were the roasted onions, that are so much sweeter than just tossing them on raw. The mushrooms were cut thick, adding a great texture to the entire thing. Bravo.

Interior of the crust: this is where Bruno distinguishes itself from just another pizzeria, or even the standard napoletana pizza-- the texture is actually rather spongy. There was such an airiness to it, we loved this! It had a really a unique bite.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

I have heard comments that this pizza is "soggy". Good pizza should never be decribed this way, but actually, this style of pizza tends to get pretty wet, that is true, from all the sauce and olive oil and cheese. It's pretty normal, so don't be alarmed-- although come on, who wants a "dry" pizza?? Not me! I want the sauce and cheese to meld together and explode in my mouth, thank you.

Aerial view. Forgot to take a pizza upskirt picture but you can see the bottom of one of the slices on my plate below. I would say it was charred just right-- pretty pale in color, and dotted with sporadic blackened spots.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Sasha exclaimed: "This is even better than the pizza in Napoli!" Whoa.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Now, the fun part. We started talking to the owner/pizzaiolo, Peter Lutz behind the counter who gave me the grand tour!

Meet Pete: True pizza napoletana aficionado.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Pete's pizza-partner-in-crime, Bruno.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Named after Pete's wife's grandfather, Bruno was custom-built in Napoli by some famed wood-fired-pizza-oven building family, put on a freighter ship, and landed in San Diego months later. I believe Pete told me there are only one or two other of these ovens in the States.

Bruno gets over 900˚F! HOT!

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Definitely not sticking my hand in there.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Fire wood and Pete's metal pizza peel.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Pete brought out some of his key ingredients that make up his pizza. Only the best for Bruno and its clientele.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

He also uses San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, which is pretty much the standard now at Napoletana-style pizzerias. But Pete did make it a point that he doesn't like to drop names and brands-- he thinks that good, quality ingredients should just be a given and his establishment shouldn't be defined by such specific brands. Well stated, my friend.

Pete also accidentally slipped and told me what kind of flour he uses. OOPS.

I have to say that the desserts were forgettable, as they also are at Tony's in San Francisco. We got the cannoli and panna cotta. At this point, I'm not really expecting great desserts at pizzerias, so it's fine.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

We pretty much closed the place down, as usual.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Sofia.

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)

Thank you Mike for the awesome recommendation, and big love for Pete, who has brought his devotion and art of great pizza napoletana to Southern California. Better than Napoli, says Sasha! (Don't let them hear you Sash, i Napoletani sono pazzi).

Viva Napoli! Viva Bruno!

Pizzeria Bruno (SD)
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8 comments

  • This makes me miss Europe so much. Whether Neapolitan or Sicilian, European-style pizza is just plain better.

    Craig on

  • Hey Kayoko – I’ve been waiting for this post. The middle of my first pizza here was beyond soggy; it was just plain saturated, there were no char bubbles. But I still loved the cheese and the wonderful charred edges. Things have gotten better on subsequent visits, and we had a fantastic pizza the last time we ate at Bruno.

    Kirk on

  • The char bubbles looks heavenly. I had my first proper pizza in Napoli too and came back a changed woman.

    Sakura on

  • This post just made me feel like I’m starving.

    Sarah Nevada on

  • KIRK! Thanks for stopping in, and I’m so happy you’ve been back to Bruno and gave it another chance. I actually figured you knew what you were talking about when you called it soggy the first time around— but I did read in some forums that others thought it was too, so thought I should address it just in case they were overreacting (you know how Chowhounders get. Ha). The char bubbles are fantastic at Bruno, and Pete is so passionate. I’m sure you’ve already made friends with him.

    Sab E Lee report coming soon!

    kayoko on

  • Such a great post! Thanks Kayoko for making me even more excited for my first trip to Italy. I’ve decided not to eat any Italian food for a month until I get there! But glad to know i can just drive to SD for authentic pizza!

    saaara on

  • Great blog. What kind of flour?

    Fred Brophy on

  • Sara, Can’t wait for you to go to Italy. The food south of Rome is definitely my favorite, you are going to lurve it. So much good eating… and you will be there at the height of porcini season. JEALOUS! You may just never come back.

    kayoko on

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