Favorite Dishes

Fratelli La Bufala Celebrates Five Years on South Beach

The dream of three brothers from Italy

has turned into an international brand serving Italian food, namely

pizzas, that only use fresh and natural ingredients,

including cheeses, imported from the motherland. Because of FDA

restrictions, the buffalo meat used cannot be imported and so a

purveyor in Gainesville is called on. Ingredients aside, Fratelli La Bufala stands out

as an unpretentious, comfortable establishment.

Portions are generous. There's  a selection of antipasti plates ($7 to $39) with the

majority featuring the bufala mozzarella. La

Caprese Impanata ($13) is a fried and breaded bufala mozzarella with

cherry tomato, basil, and oregano. Bresaola ($15) is a cured, sliced

beef tenderloin served with arugula and shaved bufala parmigiano. The

tenderloin is not traditional-carpaccio-thin and requires a knife because it's cured. Both plates could

easily fill two persons.

There are two soups: minestrone ($7)

and gazpacho ($7). The salad portion of the menu, Le Insalatone

($7-$17), offers simple combinations of ingredients. The Mediterraneo ($13) is mixed greens, bufala mozzarella,

cherry tomatoes, green olives, and basil pesto. And as with the

antipasti, these portions are suitable for two.

Fratelli La Bufala's Maccaroni

($12-$17) features a tremendous selection from lasagna ($15) to

gnocchi ($14) to cornettone ($16), which are homemade cannellone

filled with ricotta cheese, bufala mozzarella, tomato and basil, and

topped with tomato sauce.

But it's the pizzas that have Fratelli

La Bufala's faithful coming back. General Manager Larry Mele believes

that when they opened their doors five years ago, Miami didn't

understand the style pizza. He believes that FLB struggled its first year because appreciating the uniqueness of traditional Italian

pizza needed time. FLB

has been in existence a mere eight years, with the South Beach

location serving as the only U.S. location right now.  A new location will open in New

York City next year. And after testing the market there for a

year or so, the plan is to open at least another four to five

locations in major U.S. Cities over the following two to three years.

There are two pizza menus. One for red

($7-$18) and one for white ($13-$17). A margherita ($11) is priced on

par with most any other local pizzeria and the product is ten times better. The simple components of tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella,

and basil somehow combine to create a mouth-watering experience no other

local pizzeria can replicate. Amalfitana ($16) is a white pizza with

smoked bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and basil. The

toppings are plentiful and the combination of ingredients a beautiful


FLB's pizza makers are sponsored for

five years on visas from Italy. they come well-trained in the art of

baking pizzas that have a doughy, yet crisp crust and are rich in

sauce, cheese, and toppings. These pizzas aren't symmetrical. The

ingredients are not spread evenly. Rather clumps of bufala

mozzarella are here and there. There might be a one-inch crust exposed on one side and three inches on the other side of the

pizza. But all in all, the imperfections are part of the uniqueness that Miamians (and Americans for that matter)

must go with when venturing from pre-fab pizza.

And what other local pizzeria offers a

complimentary bottle of wine on Tuesdays to parties with a lady? There are seven or eight bottles of red, white, or

sparkling that cost $29 or less.

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John Zur