Bufala: Local Boy Brings it Home

Bufala Margherita

Wicked Margherita with herbed and spicy oils to match

Bufala has landed on the West Side with a bang!

A few years back, when I referred to Kerrisdale as a ‘culinary backwater’ the comment was removed by a sensitive editor. But the fact is that, for many years, the explosion of culinary culture that’s engulfed the rest of Vancouver and environs has all but by-passed this traditionally pretty tweedy enclave. And more than a few attempts to ‘up the game’ have failed.

Castelvetrao olives

Seriously addictive, smoky Castelvetrano olives

Bufala—which I reckon makes as good a pizza as Victoria Drive’s Via Tevere—has taken over the space occupied by relatively short-lived Mac Shack, a ‘mac ‘n cheese’ specialist that proved just a tad too mundane even for comfort food connoisseurs.

Bufala interior

A bustling room already, and no wonder.

There are so many things to like about Bufala, from its clean lines, open kitchen and buzzing atmosphere to a straight ahead menu—well beyond pizza—that’s packed with creativity.

Bufala Kale Caesar

Kale Caesar covers all the food groups, including bacon…

The restaurant is the brainchild of Wildebeest owners Josh Pape and James Iranzad, which in part probably explains Bufala’s early success. These two know what they’re doing.

Yet I was still intrigued what it was that lured them to Kerrisdale, so I asked James ‘How come?’.

It’s simple, he said.

“I grew up there.”

Bufala Burrata

Burrata with veal tongue, scallion and parsley

Even though a few confidants suggested it might not fly, Iranzad figured it was worth the risk.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What does the neighbourhood need?’ And the answer was clear: some sort of casual dining,” he says.

“We also asked ourselves, ‘What kind of food do we love,’ so that it would be genuine on our part, delicious—and suit the neighbourhood.”

Smart. Why don’t more people think like that?

It’s not only about the perfectly crusted pizza, which includes an excellent Margherita with ample fior di latte. Iranzad says they wanted their chefs to have fun, and it shows, often with a refreshing streak of tongue in cheek humour. Kale — everyone’s new superfood cure-all — shows up in a mildly addictive Kale Caesar Salad, anchovy and parmigiano packed, complete with a couple of rashers of crispy bacon.

Mortadella also gets the royal treatment —roasted and served with pickled cipolini onions — while meatballs in tomato sauce come with crusty house-baked bread and lashings of basil. The food is no-nonsense, down-to-earth rustic and at the same time well thought out and smartly executed, without being contrived.

It’s a fine balance — one that carries over into the wine list and cocktails (best enjoyed with smoky Castelvetrano olives), which Iranzad proudly describes as a tad risky. “We stayed away from the clichés,” he says.

Bufala doesn’t pour the standard Italian Peroni beer found at just about every other Italian joint, instead opting for local draughts Red Truck, Four Winds and Dageraad Belgian.

Cocktails, too, are smart and well priced, such as refreshing Americano (Campari and sweet vermouth with soda), perfect as an aperitif. Wines, however, are faithfully Italian (and “pretty obscure,” admits Iranzad), ranging from Arneis and Inzolia to juicy Frappato-Nerello Mascalese and full bodied Nero Davalo Primitivo.

“They’re not what you see on a standard wine list — but if you were in Tuscany, Naples or Amalfi on holiday, that’s what you’d be drinking with this kind of food.”

Bufala, 5395 West Blvd at 42nd Ave. is open daily 11:30 am to 10 p.m.

 

 

Bufala pizza paddles

Pizza paddles frame non-stop action in the open kitchen

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:15+00:00 October 10th, 2014|Dining|3 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

3 Comments

  1. pk October 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    OMG I can’t wait to try this place!

  2. sharon hanna November 12, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Tried this place last night…..the food was good (not sure about “ham oil” however.. 😉 but the crowded table next to us was peopled with smartphone selfie-taking obnoxiousness. Evidently it was a bunch of “wine reps” who had had a little too much of the product. They were rude beyond belief in a public space – my dining partner and I had to yell at each other in order to be heard. I wish restaurateurs would have some kind of policy re: “appropriate behaviour’!! Geeze Louise. I ended up with an upset stomach from the stress…..will try it again (and have the funghi pizza – also the burrata as they had run out last night)….but go earlier in the day before the rowdies arrive.

  3. […] Even though we’ve never bought anything but sustainable seafood at the other restaurants (Bufala and Wildebeest), we’re just  now in the process of getting it certified. But every one of […]

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