The Santa Fe Brewing Company continues to expand its offerings by playing host to a new food truck called Bruno's, an independently owned satellite operation separate from the brewery itself. Painted jet-black with a highlighted portrait of a young man from the 1920s—a tribute to the grandfather of the family who owns it—the truck aims to offer an Italian street food experience that seems almost anachronistic against the backdrop of highway and endless skies that is the Brewing Company's purview.
Siblings Angelo and Angelica opreate Bruno's with a concept inspired by the late family patriarch, Giordano Bruno. He emigrated to America from Milan in the '20s, but his parents hailed from Tuscany and Naples, respectively. Equipped with an arsenal of recipes local to his family's origin points, including that most famous culinary offering from Naples, the Neapolitan pizza, he found work as a chef first in Chicago and then New York. Inspired by the vibrant Italian-American food culture of both cities, Giordano made it his mission to bring a similar ethos to the Southwest. Eventually, he settled in Salida, Colorado, and opened a small pool hall with a speakeasy in a secret back room. There he'd continue his love for authentic Italian food, both for the sake of the public and in his home and hearth.
The Brunos of today recall Sunday dinners with their grandfather where he taught them how to make everything from scratch. This included various kinds of sauces, pasta, gelato, sorbetto, cannoli and biscotti. "We learned everything growing up," says Angelo. "Our sauces, sandwiches and pizza are all versions of our grandfather's recipes. We took the best parts of what he taught us and turned it into a menu."
The recipes used by the Brunos have been tweaked slightly since then, and you'll find the truck at the Santa Fe Brewing Company most often, although it do sometimes parks outside the Shift New Mexico dispensary (24 Bisbee Court, 438-1090). The family operates two main trucks, one equipped with a wood-fired oven and another with an espresso machine imported from Italy, a keg for nitro-style coffee and a machine that makes granitas, a dessert with Sicilian origins. The oven was also imported from Italy and is attached to a small trailer, around which a mobile outdoor kitchen has been constructed where the pizzas are prepared. It weighs over 10,000 pounds and temperatures inside reach 800 degrees, cooking a pizza in 90 seconds. The Brunos plan to expand their operation to include a third truck called Bruno's Speakeasy Oxygen Bar, at which they hope to offer espresso and oxygen.
The main truck, called Bruno's Wood Fired Pizza Bar, serves Neapolitan-style pizza, stromboli, calzones, bread sticks and, occasionally, a selection of sandwiches that changes every so often.
True Neapolitan pizzas are certified by the American branch of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (or AVPN), which was founded in 1984 in Naples to certify pizzerias that use the proper artisan techniques and traditions of making authentic Neapolitan pizza. In the case of Bruno's, the pizzas are made in an American Artisan style, a derivative of the classic Neapolitan created by Italian immigrants in America who didn't have access to the same ingredients they could use back in the mother country. The crust is made with traditional Caputo 00 flour, infused with Santa Fe Brewing Company's Happy Camper IPA and topped off with Sicilian olive oil. The red sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy (another requirement for Neapolitan certification), fresh organic tomatoes, olive oil and basil the Brunos grow themselves.
"You don't know what authentic Italian is until you taste it," Angelo cautions. "We've never really thought about it too much, but that's what we've always eaten and always made."
The final product is a pizza unlike anything else in Santa Fe, more in keeping with something you'd find in a deli in New York (the Brunos also do a New York-style thin-crust pizza for private events and catering, but they stick to the Neapolitan style for the Brewing Company's public). The crust is fresh, light and airy, but the middle is satisfyingly soggy with sauce. Traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are so wet in the middle they can't be served by the slice or made larger than 12 inches wide, but the Brunos make their version at 14 inches and a little bit more accessible in terms of the sauce-to-cheese ratio.
I tried the margherita ($13.50), topped with sun-dried tomatoes, green chile and pepperoni. It was truly a pleasurable fusion of influences to experience such a classic Italian style of pizza topped with New Mexican green chile. I also sampled the handmade cannoli ($3 each), a tube of flaky dough stuffed with a creamy and sugary ricotta-based filling. These were delicious, although I personally could have done without the neon-red maraschino cherries. But who am I to argue with a family tradition?
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Bruno's makes certified Neapolian pizza. It has been updated.
4-8 pm Tuesday and Friday; Noon-8 pm Saturday.
Santa Fe Brewing Company,
35 Fire Place,