Bobby Bruno pushes the local pizza envelope in Saugerties

Bobby Bruno and his children Antonio, Adrian and Alicia, with a white spinach and tomato pizza.

A solid pizza is often just a stone’s throw away in the Village of Saugerties, but local restaurateur Bobby Bruno, also owner of Village deli Delicioso, plans to widen the local slice-o-sphere with his own pies. He maintains that the local competition is what’s pushing him to new heights of culinary creativity. Housed in the garish Grinch-green building that was once Joey V’s at 3218 Route 9W, Bruno’s Pizza sold its first pies this past weekend.
Though the establishment ran a limited menu, Bruno made some lively additions to traditional Italian fare, introducing Caribbean-inspired pies into the Saugerties pizza pool. “It’s funny. You’re all pumped up and when you’re pretty much done then you feel the exhaustion,” said Bruno, who revamped and opened the establishment in 30 days. Although he’d planned a soft opening for early 2019, he instead decided to open the restaurant’s doors a month ahead of schedule. “I did this with me and my kids,” said Bruno. “Yesterday, putting the tables together, I decided to open the doors. Put it on Facebook, and we got people.”

Bruno was eager to start making pizza again. Bruno’s Deli and Pizza, his last pizza project, has been closed for nearly ten years after a decade of operation in Tivoli.  He said he hadn’t touched pizza dough since – until now.

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Type “Caribbean Pizza” into Google and you’ll get dozens of hits with recipes involving jerk chicken. Although that niche will be covered in the specialty pizza menu, plus a spice-rubbed chicken-wing entree, there are even greater culinary opportunities for Caribbean-Italian fusion. One pie combines pulled pork and fried plantains, essentially a tangier Hawaiian pizza. Another, which Bruno projects will be the restaurant’s most popular and most expensive pie, will be the “Ropa Vieja” (“old clothes” in English) pizza. Modeled after a dish popular in Cuba and Puerto Rico, it features flank steak in a tomato sauce base and a medley of sweet elements. The steak, cooked for six to ten hours, will be peppered on the pizza with caramelized onions and fried plantains.

The pizza that I sampled, a simple cheese number, had the thinnest pizza crust I’ve been able to find in Saugerties, It was reminiscent of the classic New-Haven-style pies I grew up with. For those who haven’t eaten a pizza in the Nutmeg state (an underrated pizza haven), it’s like a thin, chewier slice of ciabatta bread. The sauce was distinctive, with a sweet tang.

Another menu item that, according to Bruno, is unspoken for in the village (Local pizzerias, feel free to email us if you serve this and we’ll run a correction, but I’ve looked extensively at your menus in my time eating pizza in Saugerties) consists of crispy risotto bowls stuffed with peas, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Among menu items between slices of bread is “Bruno’s Bruiser,” a sandwich consisting of roast beef, turkey, capicola ham, provolone, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic mayonnaise on a toasted hoagie. 

Also dreamt up by the establishment is “The Mob Burger,” featuring crispy pancetta, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, greens, garlic mayonnaise and sharp provolone sauce. “The provolone is going to make it,” said Bruno of the creation. “It’s got a bite to it. If you aren’t used to it, it can bruise your mouth.”

There is more redecorating to come. The restaurant is scheduled for further revamping in April, including a non-green paint job, the inclusion of televisions, a possible expansion of outdoor seating, and a possible expansion of hours to include breakfast. Bruno hopes to add soft-serve ice cream in the summer and (hopefully) a liquor license in the near future. By then the restaurant, he predicted, will be booming.

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