If the duo behind Box Kite — the acclaimed tasting room situated in a St. Marks Street coffee shop — could work culinary magic in a 300-square foot space, it’s little surprise that they’ve achieved super-sized success at their newest venture, Bruno.
Also located in the East Village, the slim, blonde wood-accented eatery can sit up to 20 people along the zinc-topped bar alone, outfitted with stools fashioned from repurposed fruit boxes (an additional series of two-tops line the far wall). That’s good news for anyone who failed to nab one of the precious few tables at Box Kite, although you should probably be prepared to wait your turn at the no-reservations Bruno, which is rightly drawing raves for Justin Slojkowski and Dave Gulino’s reliably eclectic fare.
Because while it’s ostensibly billed as a pizzeria, it feels erroneous to pigeonhole Bruno as such; even calling it an Italian restaurant seems wide of the mark. Certainly, the beautifully blistered pies — made from locally-milled 00 flour and culled from a wood burning oven — are bound to become Bruno’s primary calling card, crowned with carrot top pesto, summer greens and noodlefish (thin, freshwater fishies, related to smelts); sweet peaches, smoked ham and cured onion; and nduja, mozzarella and cauliflower (even the standard Margarita gets a serious upgrade, with fermented tomatoes and verdant sprigs of celery-esque lovage).
The rest of the menu further betrays the chefs’ especially lofty ambitions, including uncharacterizable, eye-catching arrangements of ingredients sourced from the greenmarket. Think thinly shaved ribbons of Cucumber and Cantaloupe, strewn with succulents and plated atop creamy puddles of tapioca; a perfectly caramelized trio of fat Diver Scallops, offset with tangy sheep’s milk yogurt and virtuous pebbles of amaranth and quinoa; and Fairytale Eggplant the color of amethysts, paired with onyx crescents of black cashew, emerald flecks of opal basil, and an unexpected dusting of musky nutritional yeast. In time, Slojkowski and Gulino even plan to resurrect their envelope-pushing tasting menus — hardly the kind of thing you’d expect to find at your standard New York slice shop.