1240 Spring Garden
A few days ago, I was reluctantly on my commute into work. I ended up taking an uncharted route that I normally wouldn’t take due to the useless construction on 95. As I miserably sat at the light on Spring Garden at 13th Street, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful wood sign lining the corner property that read “Bufad”. There was a gnarly window decal of an early 1900’s, mustached-bodybuilder, who’s wearing a wife beater and covered in traditional tattoos on the front door. I immediately pulled over, got out and pressed my face against the glass in hopes of determining what this posh place was; but alas…I was stumped. Intrigued, I did a quick google search on this fancy pants new restaurant that seemed to emerge overnight. The first search results included the words “Wood fired pizza.” Cue my inner fat kid’s wide eyed excitement.
Bufad is the newest restaurant to partake in the wood fire fueled, Neapolitan style pizza race that more and more Philly joints seem to be chalking on their résumés. They officially opened their doors for business on February 1st. 5 days old and already they’re making a name for themselves in this city. As soon as you enter, you’re greeted by some gorgeous, upscale decor. The interior wallpaper is an homage to Philadelphia’s historic 13th street. A Chinese food take out container that pays tribute to “Yum-Yum”, the chinese restuarant that stood in this very spot for decades before Bufad. A horse, which marks an early 19th century stable house that was housed directly across the street. A loom (sewing machine) that represents the old sewing factory just south of here that’s currently home to Cafe Lift, Bufad’s sister bruncherie. The knives, which recognizes all the local 13th street restaurants throughout the years. And finally, the shears, that are traditionally used to cut Roman style pizzas. I’ve never seen anything like this before. This is the definition of originality and only the beginning of this killer visit.
I knew right away that I needed to have the signature “Margherita” pizza. It came to my table with an exquisite reddish-orange sauce, which reminded me of the moon’s hue on a hot August night. 4 simple ingredients make this pie what it is. Super sweet, uncooked San Marzano Sauce. Fresh clumped mozzarella. Torn basil leaves and a little extra virgin olive oil. The dough? A truly Neapolitan recipe. Nothing but authentic double-zero flour from Italy, salt, water and yeast. The pies here are ready in roughly 3-4 minutes after a blasting in their 850 degree, hickory wood fired oven. I say this often, but San Marzano tomatoes are the best to use in pizza sauce because of their signature sweetness. The warm, gooey cheese just seemed to slide down my throat with each bite. The crust was chewy, with random spots of crispy, blackened char. One of the better crusts I can ever recall eating. Be sure to get at least one of these pies when you make your visit. You’ll thank me later.
The one pie that caught my attention after browsing their menu was the “potato and egg” pie. Paper thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes, slithers of salty prosciutto, a combination of fontina and mozzarella cheeses and then it’s topped off with a single egg; cracked open and dropped directly in the center. The oven heat cooks the egg, ultimately leaving you with a runny, sunny side up egg on top. I was instructed to take my fork, bust open the egg yolk and then spread it evenly on top of the 4 slices. Hands down, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had the honor of eating. It was almost like a really elegant and classy breakfast pizza. On a side note. I washed my slices down with a bottle of “Boylan’s root beer”. If you don’t know ‘bout Boylan’s, it’s made from pure cane sugar, rather than high fructose syrup or artificial sweetener. It’s simply the finest root beer known to man.
I arrived shortly after Bufad opened for the day and every table was available. 30 minutes later, and not a single table was left unoccupied. Not to mention the line of hungry customers, anxious to see what Bufad was hittin’ for. Keep an eye out for the “mustached tattoo guy” in the coming months. 2013 will definitely be the year of Bufad. Great service, an intimate dining atmosphere and unbelievably delicious pizza. You would think that they’ve been pumping out pizzas for years with how perfect these pies came out. Expect big things from Bufad. They got the pizza game on smash.
The city of Philadelphia continues to amaze me with each and every gourmet pizzeria that opens. Cheap pizzas with low-quality ingredients have given way to delicately crafted artisan pies in recent years. And even though the bar of excellence is constantly being raised on a weekly basis, I can definitely say that Bufad might have placed it out of reach of the competition.
In an area of the city that (in my opinion) has never had a decent pizzeria sits Bufad, the new pizza joint at the corner of 13th and Spring Garden. Although they only have six pizzas on their menu, I can assure you that you really don’t need more than the two I ordered: the Margherita and the Potato & Egg.
Instead of sliced San Marzano tomatoes for their Margherita, Bufad opts to use an uncooked paste to start things off. The torn basil, fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil are all then added in traditional form before being slid into their wood fired oven. As far as Margherita pies go, this one was about as close to perfect as you can get. The San Marzano paste had the freshest taste I’d ever experienced. But the slightly charred crust stood out the most. The handles were a bit doughy, but incredibly tasty. Definitely kept my attention.
On deck was the Potato & Egg. Covered with Yukon potatoes, scallions, prosciutto, fontina and mozzarella cheese, an egg is the final topping that compliments all the aforementioned. I honestly find prosciutto a bit salty and tough for my liking, but this time was different than my last experience. The saltiness of the prosciutto with the potato was outstanding to say the least. And with their slightly buttery tasting crust, this pie will keep me coming back for as long as they’re around. Ladies and gentlemen, the king of Fairmount pizza has been crowned.