photo credit: David Douglass
Ever since it opened in 2013 on Cesar Chavez, Bufalina was Austin's cool kid pizza-and-natural-wine spot. With unfinished walls and bare Edison bulbs dangling from the ceiling, it always felt homey in its bootstrapped minimalism, kind of like an underground speakeasy. The trailblazer has since closed to make way for a big condo development—what a surprise—but plans are underway for it to reopen. Stay tuned.
Bufalina Due, the second location further north in Brentwood, might not be as scrappy as the original, but it’s still imbued with the spirit. The design is simple and clean with modern lines, but it’s been open for several years now, so it’s got a worn-in feel. The wood tables are slightly scuffed; the plates are sometimes a little chipped. It is very comfortable, like a cozy sweatshirt that’s gone through the wash a million times.
Our favorite thing about Bufalina Due is that they don’t take reservations, so it’s super walk-in friendly. A few years back we even just strolled right in during prime time on Valentine’s Day. So when it’s late, or it’s a Monday and everything is closed, or you tried to go to the new peking duck place and there’s an hour wait and you’re hungry and want something great to eat right now, Bufalina Due is frequently the solution.
The elephant in the room is the big wood-fired pizza oven in the back (it’s very nice to sit next to during a wintertime cold snap). While there are simple seasonal salads and rotating fresh handmade pastas on the menu that you should definitely order, pizza is why you’re here. The Neapolitan pizzas are nearly perfect and textbook, with a leoparded crust that’s yeasty, light, and airy. While there are classics like a marinara and a margherita, we can’t help but order the electrifying red pie that amps up the traditional pizza profile with double garlic, double parmesan, and chili flakes.
Beyond the pizza, you also go to Bufalina Due for the wine, as it’s got one of the more adventurous lists in town, with bottles that span from cult Catalan producers to new-school Texan wineries. It’s the kind of wine-focused restaurant where you can ask questions like, What’s new? What’s good? What’s something weird to try? And the personable and deeply knowledgeable staff will have the answers (and most likely samples).
While the wine and pizza are great at Bufalina Due, the coziness is the real draw. The large wooden tables are great for groups, the mid-century pendants have a warm glow, and the restaurant has one of our favorite bars to post up at on date night. It’s both intimate (with a friendly and easygoing staff) and energetic (with bopping, uptempo playlists that span from bossa nova to electronica to French disco to '80s hip-hop). Like a worn-in sweatshirt, Bufalina Due is a place where you can feel at ease, with a glass of wine in one hand, and a slice of Neapolitan pizza in the other.
Burrata Or Today's Mozzarella
Two appetizers that you can count to be on the menu are the creamy burrata with housemade focaccia and today's fresh mozzarella. They’re seasonal—with ingredients like local strawberries, peaches, or zucchini—so you better not get too attached to any one in particular.
The salads at Bufalina Due are simple and uncomplicated, and they often change seasonally. They’re a nice prelude to all the pizza you’re about to devour.
There are often a couple of rotating handmade pastas on the menu. Past iterations include spaghetti and meatballs, rigatoni piccata, casarecce with garlic confit and fresh tomatoes, and cacio e pepe. You should get at least one.
Bufalina does classics like margherita pies, but if you’re in the mood for something more out-of-left-field, there are very delicious options like a creamy white taleggio pie with sausage and scallions and a spicy pickle pie that combines mozzarella, fontina, oregano, and giardiniera.
Vanilla Ice Cream And Sherry
The dessert that’s always on the menu is the vanilla ice cream and sherry, where the sherry gets poured tableside over the ice cream. We like to order a glass of the sherry on its own to go along with it.