J ust a few miles north up I-95, tucked away in the quaint, peaceful, history-laden town of Guilford, is an upstart: Bufalina, a restaurant that’s been giving the shoreline’s long-established pizza titans a run for their money.
Literally and figuratively, you can’t miss Bufalina, located at 1070 Boston Post Road. As a complement, and a compliment, to the town’s rustic backdrop of sprawling New England fields and farmland, the outside of the restaurant is painted a striking barn-house red.
For a pizzeria that’s amassed quite a bit of acclaim since opening back in 2011, it may be surprising at first to see how tiny the restaurant’s interior is. Seating only nine guests around an open kitchen and wood-fired oven—outside, a single table waits, among herb stands, to be used during warmer times of year—patrons can see how their pizza is made, and who is making it for them.
Meet Matteo “Matt” Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino. They’re the husband-and-wife duo bringing you such mouthwatering 12-inch pies as the Cavalo Nero (braised Tuscan kale, garlic, spicy Calabrian chili oil and buffalo mozzarella), the Porri (caramelized leeks, scamorza—which is aged mozzarella—and pancetta) and the Tre Carni (San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, salame picante and sausage) to the table.
Scialabba and Pellegrino spent a year touring a variety of regional, organic family farms in Italy to learn the fundamentals of traditional Italian cultivation and preparation. Opening up Bufalina was the culmination of their education; a familial place where, together, they could bring authentic food and well-honed culinary skill to the Connecticut shoreline.
The path to opening was a bit of a sprint. While cutting their restaurant chops at New York favorites Blue Ribbon and Sullivan Street Bakery, Scialabba and Pellegrino also found the time to write, and get published, two Italian cookbooks, The Italian Farmer’s Table and The Southern Italian Farmer’s Table, commemorating their time spent in Italy and its regional fare and folklore. Though the two work hard to deliver a world-class product and raise a family, simplicity is the mantra in all of their culinary adventures, they say.
If simplicity is a key ingredient, the farm-fresh produce that graces their pizza dough canvases can’t be too far behind in its importance. Part of the farm-to-table movement, Bufalina’s season-sensitive menu, a one-pager adjusted quarterly, favors local ingredients and keeps the food fresh in more than one way.
Ranging in price from about $10 to $15, Bufalina churns out Neapolitan-style pizzas one after another. The 12-inch diameter is a good size for sharing (or not sharing) some with a friend. And while topping-sets like the ones mentioned above feature strong and hearty flavors to welcome winter, you’d be remiss not to try the namesake pie that pays homage to the unforgettable tang of imported water buffalo mozzarella: the Bufalina. “Dessert” pizzas (like the Nutella with powdered sugar currently on offer) and daily specials (such as the Roasted Cauliflower or the Fig with Gorgonzola and Speck—a special kind of prosciutto) typically rise to the same level of excellence as on-menu choices.
Scialabba, Pellegrino and a small staff work exceedingly hard to deliver a product and an experience rich in flavor. Dining at Bufalina is just like pulling up a chair to the dinner table, rubbing shoulders with sidekicks and strangers while aromas emanating from the wood-fired stove intoxicate the senses, even before first bite.
1070 Boston Post Road, Guilford (map)
Tues-Sat 4:30-9pm. Reservations strongly encouraged.
Written and photographed by Courtney McCarroll.