Monday, May 7, 2012

It's All About the Mozz at Fratelli La Bufala NYC

By: Anne M. Raso

I recently was fortunate enough to be able to try the first NYC installment of Fratelli La Bufala, helmed by Pippo La Bufala, a Caserta, Italy, master mozzarella maker and Chef Rosanna Marzialle. In the past three years, they opened nearly 100 Fratelli La Bufala restaurants worldwide.  They are both strong believer's in the traditions of Campania's cuisine, and each "store" in the chain employees nearly all employees exported from that beloved region of Italy. 
The New York branch of Fratelli La Bufala is located on a busy corner of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. There are often 20 to 30 people milling about, hoping for a chance at a table (thus, we suggest reservations). The eatery has only been open about two weeks at this point in time, and a few kinks are still being ironed out. For instance, the grill has still not been installed so all meat and fish entrees are not yet available--but this whimsical pop art and mural filled eatery is all about the mozz, not surprisingly. The wonderful brick pizza oven in the front as you walk in is quite striking, and three animated Neapolitan chefs are chatting in their native tongue as you walk in. Their perfectionistic attitude towards pizza making is refreshing. The dough is used for the wonderful focaccia served when you first sit down at your table, as well as for croquettes and rice balls, which can be ordered as starters.
Famous Pizza
 I tried the grilled veggies with mozz ($14)--apparently grilled ahead of time somewhere else since the official grill was not yet installed in the kitchen. There was layered fresh and smoked mozzarella, soft and water covered just like it is in Italy. The veggies were sliced very thin with a lot of char marks, which is great for people who like that strong "grilled" flavor. The veggies are mozz are served in pyramid form, so the dish is officially called La Piramide Di Provola Affumicata Di Bufala. It's considered a "light meal" at 360 calories and is very thoughtfully marked as such for the health conscious. Not surprisingly, there are many other mozz and homemade ricotta masterpieces to try as starters, including eggplant stuffed with ricotta and a full pound of buffalo mozz served with cherry tomatoes, oregano and arugula.
Cannellone Colorato E Parmigiana Di Melanzane
Next up I tried the bi-color cannelloni entree--or as they call it here, Cannellone Colorato E Parmigiana Di Melanzane ($18.00). It's two large egg pasta tubes stuck together--one half normal white pasta and one side consisting of dark pasta made of squid ink, saffron and spinach. It's filled with ricotta and Neapolitan ragu and garnished with mozzarella, smoked cheese and saffron sauce. There is a little bit of eggplant parmigiana on the plate as well. This is a baked dish, and the pasta has a firm bottom and soft top.

The real star at this modern-looking eatery with traditional Southern Italian cuisine is the pizza. I tried the pie called La Reale ($20.50), a pizza with cherry tomatoes, provola cheese and prosciutto. The cheese stretched for miles, had a warm, buttery taste and the prosciutto was oh-so-tender. This pizza is sauceless, but you don't even notice it's missing. This pizza, which is about ten inches across, makes a good dinner alone. I would vote this the best pizza on the Upper West Side and I plan on going back to try some of the other variations, including Cornetta Di Bufala ($21.00)--a horn shaped pizza filled with Emmenthal and mozzarella cheese. There's even an Americana pizza ($20.00) with--get this--smoked mozzarella, bacon and eggs! (Hmm, maybe they should serve it for breakfast!)
For dessert, I tried the Tiramisu ($9) and I Cannolini ($8)--aka cannoli--and decided that the Tiramisu was the clear winner. The Tiramisu was a pretty classic recipe made with Marsala, homemade Madeleines soaked in espresso. The cocoa-powder-covered cream on top was light and heavenly. The cannoli was rather new-fangled--they're waffle rolls filled with ricotta cream, Limoncello and chocolate pieces. Both the shell and the filling were much lighter than Americans have come to know in our traditional Italian bakeries. If you prefer a lighter, healthier version of this famous pastry, I recommend this. If you like you cannoli filling so heavy that it makes you sink in the bath, I say that these are not for you.

Fratelli La Bufala 
2161 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
(212) 496-5303

Photos: Anne M. Raso; Pizza Shot Iwona Aamczyk

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...