Pizza mak­ers honor an­ces­tor

Find thin-crust piz­zas, Ital­ian sweets that pay homage to fam­ily’s heritage at Bruno’s ‘The Biz’ food truck and tent

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Olivia Har­low ohar­low@sfnewmex­i­can.com

In­side a black tent, Vincenzo Bruno-Marchi kneads a pil­low of dough with flour, be­fore toss­ing the flat­tened disc into the air. He spreads a thin layer of home­made tomato sauce across the sur­face, sprin­kles it with cheese and ar­ranges an as­sort­ment of top­pings over the dough.

Then, Bruno-Marchi lifts the han­dle of a gran­ite oven, im­ported from Italy, and scoots the pizza in­side. Us­ing a large spat­ula, he turns the dough, mak­ing sure all sides of the crust bake un­der the flame.

Ninety sec­onds later, he shov­els the thin-crust New York-style pizza out of the oven. The cheese, melted be­neath a pat­tern of crisp jalapeños and green chile, siz­zles, as Bruno-Marchi shaves away burnt edges of the crust.

Fi­nally, he drops a cou­ple of pep­per­onci­nis in the cen­ter of the pizza — “our trade­mark,” he says.

Bruno’s “The Biz” Au­then­tic Ital­ian Street Food, prides it­self for be­ing a fam­ily-run busi­ness that serves au­then­tic Ital­ian piz­zas and desserts from a sideby-side mo­bile food truck and tent. But more than any­thing, staff say, the eatery is a homage to a beloved an­ces­tor, Gior­dano Bruno (1905-92).

“We’re try­ing to push our Ital­ian heritage,” Bruno-Marchi says. “We do the busi­ness in mem­ory of my grandpa.”

Gior­dano Bruno, born in Mi­lan in 1905, im­mi­grated to the United States in 1918, at first land­ing in New York and even­tu­ally mak­ing his way out west. Af­ter work­ing at a speakeasy in Sal­ida, Colo., he came to Santa Fe in the early ’30s, where he worked at a lo­cal waf­fle house and then as a chef in Los Alamos dur­ing the Man­hat­tan Project. He fi­nally landed in Al­bu­querque in 1960, where he re­tired from the food in­dus­try.

Bruno-Marchi, 72, says he re­mem­bers go­ing to Sun­day night spaghetti din­ners at his grandpa’s house, com­plete with Chi­anti wine, veal Parme­san and spumoni ice cream for dessert. He says some of his fond­est mem­o­ries are of hear­ing his grand­fa­ther’s sto­ries of work­ing at the Coloradan speakeasy dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion and learn­ing to box in Santa Fe in the 1930s.

The restau­rant’s logo of a man in box­ing gloves de­picts Gior­dano Bruno, fam­ily mem­bers say. And the busi­ness’s “most unique” of­fer­ing — a white pizza with Si­cil­ian olive oil, lo­cally sourced moz­zarella, ri­cotta from New York, arugula, mush­rooms, Ital­ian salami and onions — is named af­ter Gior­dano Bruno’s box­ing nick­name, “Punchy.”

“He was re­ally some­thing else,” BrunoMarch­i says, adding his grandpa’s most no­table qual­ity was his pas­sion for food.

“I think [I get my love of cook­ing] be­cause of my grandpa,” Bruno-Marchi says. From a young age, he ex­plains, he’s em­braced the trope “food is life, and life is food,” first learn­ing to make pizza dough as a tod­dler.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from an 18-year ca­reer in

the mil­i­tary in 1981, Bruno-Marchi, who lives part-time in Santa Fe and oth­er­wise in Al­bu­querque, says he founded an Ital­ian sand­wich cater­ing busi­ness in Al­bu­querque called Chile Deli and Cater­ing.

In 2012, he and his fam­ily launched Bruno’s as a pri­vate, cater­ing-only busi­ness. Three years later, the fam­ily

de­cided to launch to­day’s two-day-aweek busi­ness that also caters to large par­ties and is a ven­dor at spe­cial events.

In 2016, Bruno-Marchi says, he found an am­bu­lance for sale in Colorado and de­cided to con­vert it into a food truck, where staff now cre­ate Ital­ian desserts and run an oxy­gen bar.

The next ven­ture, Bruno-Marchi says, is to be­come a brick-and-mor­tar op­er­a­tion, hope­fully by the end of this year.

Since its in­cep­tion, the fam­ily has “put a lot of love into [the busi­ness],” says Joe Fra­zier, Bruno-Marchi’s nephew-in­law who serves part time. “We find the best in­gre­di­ents — from the flours, even down to the wa­ters we put in the dough.”

“There’s a lot of pas­sion put into the food qual­ity,” agrees Trent Woot­ers, one of Bruno-Marchi’s son-in-laws, who helps out at the food truck “for fun” in ad­di­tion to his full-time job at Los Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory.

Ev­ery pizza, Bruno-Marchi ex­plains, is made with two dif­fer­ent flours — one from New York City and one from Italy — as well as lo­cal IPA beers from spots such as Sec­ond Street Brew­ery and Tum­ble­root Brew­ery and Dis­tillery. The brews, Bruno-Marchi says, boost fla­vor and help the dough to rise, pre­serv­ing a crunchy tex­ture in the crust.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the sauce, he says, is im­ported from Italy, the moz­zarella cheese is sourced from var­i­ous New Mex­ico dairies, and the ri­cotta comes from New York.

“What­ever we can, we get from Italy … or New York” — known for its Ital­ian food scene, he says.

While a ma­jor­ity of pizza com­pa­nies add xan­than gum and hy­dro­genated oil to dough, so it can be frozen, Bruno-Marchi says his fam­ily makes piz­zas daily and avoids adding any “junk” to their recipes.

“There’s no pro­cessed foods. It’s all nat­u­ral,” he says. “Ev­ery­thing has to be fresh.”

Pizza fla­vors range from tra­di­tional margherita with sun-dried toma­toes and fresh basil, which Bruno-Marchi grows him­self, to pep­per­oni with roasted gar­lic and the Tre Carne fea­tur­ing salami, pep­per­oni and spicy Ital­ian sausage.

Sweets sold from the food truck in­clude home­made can­noli, bis­cotti, spumoni ice cream, espresso gran­i­tas — a sort of cof­fee-fla­vored shaved ice bev­er­age made with cold brew espresso, fil­tered wa­ter and cane juice — and tiramisu. For some spe­cial events, Bruno’s also makes fried pizza doughs topped with Nutella and ge­lato.

Be­cause the busi­ness tries to in­cor­po­rate a “1920s speakeasy theme,” the gelatos are all in­fused with liquors, such as ba­nanas Fos­ter, cranberry gin and Ir­ish cream.

The fam­ily’s ded­i­ca­tion to au­then­tic Ital­ian foods, Bruno-Marchi says, has re­sulted in some­what of a “cult fol­low­ing.” Reg­u­lars call in or­ders ev­ery Tues­day night when Bruno’s is based at Santa Fe Brew­ing at The Bridge, as well as pop by Meow Wolf dur­ing lunch on Wed­nes­days. One cus­tomer, the fam­ily says, drives up from Al­bu­querque ev­ery Fri­day to get two piz­zas for her fam­ily.

This, Bruno-Marchi says, is why he does what he does.

“The best part is hav­ing some­one try our pizza and say, ‘ Damn, that’s a good pizza,’ ” he says.

Many of the cus­tomers, he says, are Ital­ian fam­i­lies and tourists from New York.

“They say, ‘ This tastes like Italy.’ Peo­ple say, ‘ Your pizza re­minds me of home.’ ”

PHOTOS BY OLIVIA HAR­LOW/THE NEW MEX­I­CAN

A cou­ple of pep­per­onci­nis in the cen­ter of the pizza are ‘our trade­mark,’ says Vincenzo Bruno-Marchi of Bruno’s ‘The Biz’ Au­then­tic Ital­ian Street Food. ‘You have to make the food look nice. … It’s about pre­sen­ta­tion.’

TOP: Vincenzo Bruno-Marchi tosses a disc of pizza dough in­side the tent. ABOVE: The piz­zas go into a gran­ite oven im­ported from Italy, where they bake for 90 sec­onds.

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