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.