The first thing that hits you is the light—Bruno might be the brightest restaurant in New York. As clean and stark-white as a Nordic design store, the sliver of a space has bulbs embedded into ledges along its brick walls, glowing rods over a stretch of boxy two-tops and under-cabinet lights beaming down on a 20-stool open counter. It’s not an ideal setting for scarfing saucy pizza.
But these pies aren’t of the messy, marinara-down-your-chin ilk. The wood-fired, hyperseasonal rounds from Dave Gulino and Justin Slojkowski—the Roberta’s alums behind last year’s surprise-hit tasting-menu pop-up inside Box Kite Coffee—are almost dainty. The tomatoes are organic, the crust is built with upstate wheat berries milled in the basement, and each pizza arrives adorned with jewel-toned herbs.
Those New American tinkerings are more suited to nontraditional pies—a smoky-sweet swath of Marlow country ham with roasted peaches ($17), fistfuls of summer greens with carrot-top pesto and briny bottarga ($18)—than the flaccid Margherita ($15), on which purple basil and twee lovage can’t detract from the soupiness of its fermented-tomato sauce or the chewiness of its crust.
Chefly ambitions are abundant in small plates, like a refreshing dish of cucumber curls and sweet melon dabbed with tapioca-freckled buttermilk ($12), but it’s hard to take such lofty efforts seriously when the basics—say, the perfectly simple trio of dough, sauce and cheese—aren’t being prudently executed. Dim the zeal and fine-tune the za instead.