UPDATE: My friend, Carlos from Carlos Eats, sent me this devastating link: Dirty Dining: Bruno’s Pizza. Turns out they were recently shut down for having too many roaches in the kitchen. Not too surprised here. I had called them about their being shut down, and was told there had been a gas leak. Well, it looks like in addition to being nasty beyond legal limits, they’re also liars. GO TEAM BRUNO!
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It’s been so long since I’ve done a pizza place! So very long. I’d just like to go on record and say that pizza is my official “favorite food”. It’s the best. It’s always been the best. It always will be the best. There’s no time in my life that you could answer “what’s for dinner” with “pizza” and get any sort of negative response from me. Seven days a week, three meals a day, pizza is just fine by me.
That’s why I’m so distressed by the fact that I’ve hardly even touched the pizza world of Tampa Bay. It’s like I haven’t been doing my job at all! Or maybe I’ve just been so busy doing my job, I haven’t had time to do what I want. And that is eat pizza until I succumb to delicious pizza intoxication and die. But I guess the occasional pizza will keep me happy. Even if it’s… DRIVE-THRU PIZZA!
Oh god… it’s true. It’s a pizza place without any place to eat the pizza. Drive-thru or walk up. What madness is this?? But it’s not madness.
Warning: this is not the classiest place. It’s a small building, not incredibly well kept up. The inside looks… somewhat unpleasant. But you don’t get to go in there! So don’t worry about it. Bruno’s is on the corner of Waters and Armenia, near a Winn-Dixie grocery store. And they’ve been around for a while (over 15 years, apparently). In that time, they’ve mastered the ol’ double reacharound drive-thru (there are two of them). You can use those, or you can run up to the window and scream at them until they open it and serve you.
They have some really good prices. Two slices and a drink for 3.99 is awesome. I think they may tag a few extra cents on there for pepperoni, but it’s a great starting price. My friend and I went ahead and ordered the special, one for each of us. And then I noticed they had wings.
Bruno’s offers three styles of wing: barbecue, hot, and “medium”. Medium is when they throw barbecue sauce and hot sauce together and call it medium. Ordinarily, I probably would have gone with the standard hot wings, but for whatever reason we went with the medium. And they were good. As you can see, they were pretty well covered in sauce, and the sauce was a really nice sweet vs. hot situation. I honestly don’t think either the hot or the barbecue would be particularly impressive on their own, but they worked well together. The wings were fried and decent in size, and I actually really enjoyed them. I wouldn’t go out of my way for them, but they made a great addition to the meal. And you know, 50 wings for 33 bucks isn’t a bad deal. Dammit. I should have gotten 50 wings.
And there’s the pizza. We went with basic pepperoni slices, because adding a whole bunch of toppings would have ruined the 3.99 deal. And honestly, I feel that this place is designed to serve simple slices best. Just cheese. Just pepperoni. Nothing fancy.
It’s a hand tossed pizza, similar to a New York style. Really basic toppings and sauce. The pepperonis were perfectly ordinary, the quality you could find at any corner pizza place. Cheese was good, but in no way exceptional. Just decent cheese. The sauce had no frills whatsoever. It tasted like pizza sauce. Tomato-y. It wasn’t particularly well seasoned, it didn’t have anything wild in it. What you’re looking at here is maybe the most basic, plain pizza available. And it’s perfect.
It’s perfect. This is another one of those “greater than the sum of its parts” situations, where there is nothing special going on at all with any of the pizza’s individual ingredients. But when they are brought together, they make precisely what you think of when you think “pizza”. It is the perfect baseline for pizza. Everything as it should be, nothing more, nothing less. And honestly, I feel that is where pizza is able to shine best. Compare this to a pizza from Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza. Same basic ingredients, but Anthony’s does everything they can to make it special. Bruno’s throws them all on a crust, tosses it in an over, slaps it into a box, and says “there ya go.” Because just pizza is good enough. They let the simplicity shine through. I would take Bruno’s over Anthony’s any day of the week.
The crust is as close as Bruno’s gets to doing anything exceptionally well, and even then they really don’t do anything special. They just get it right. Nice, thin and crisp on the bottom, chewy on the edges. You can see the pizza itself is quite thin, like a good New York slice. They are foldable if you so desire.
Bruno’s embodies everything a pizza place should be. Not could, should. I’d prefer they had an actual restaurant, but the convenience of a drive-thru is nice (I guess), and the pizza is the quintessential pizza. The golden standard. Bruno says it best: