DINER | Wildebeest Team Lands West Side Address, Gets Set To Open “Bufala” Pizzeria
by Andrew Morrison | Josh Pape and James Iranzad, the owner-operators of Wildebeest in Gastown, are opening a new restaurant, this time in Kerrisdale. It’s to be a 55 seater called Bufala, so named – one assumes – after the Italian water buffaloes that provide the world’s better pizzerias with milk for mozzarella cheese (wildebeests and buffaloes are also a tidy pair of bovid ungulates).
Bufala is currently under construction at 5295 West Blvd (Arbutus) at West 38th, so not far from Kerrisdale’s epicentre. I toured the space before the weekend, and it was clear that they weren’t far off from finishing (despite the state of the interiors depicted in the images above). When it opens, probably before the end of the month, it will do day and night service, and presumably a brisk take-out trade.
For pizzas, they’ll have a high temperature double decker electric oven making 10-12 types a night. A few of these will be of the traditional sort (eg. Margherita), but the majority will be originals built for taste. In addition to the pies, there will be several sides, including 3-4 staple salads, plus a pasta feature or two. There’s a new Farmer’s Market located right across the street, and they hope to make use of it. ”There are a lot of farmers at the market that we already deal with at Wildebeest,” Iranzad says, “so it’ll be nice for us to just walk across the street and build features with them.”
And speaking of Wildebeest, in a two-way street arrangement their amazing smoked olives will be on offer at Bufala, while Bufala’s bread will be tabled at Wildebeest. Doing the cooking will be Lucas Earthy, formerly of Les Faux Bourgeois and La Pentola della Quercia, and Wildebeest’s own Graham Marceau.
The design will see the space dominated by two long communal tables running down the middle of the room with four booths on one side and an open kitchen bar complete with four or five stools for prime viewing/dining on the other. There is no sit down bar, though there is – naturally – a bar program. “It’s definitely a smaller program than what I’m used to,” Pape – a former Bartender of the Year – explains, “but it’ll have a good mix of classic Italian and contemporary cocktails.” I trust we’ll also see a well chosen selection of wines by the glass and some quality beers as well.
So what to make of it?
For sure, Vancouverites like pizza. In recent years they’ve been rewarded for their decades of patience suffering mostly second rate pies by an explosion of quality pizza joints, especially in East Van. But the people of Kerrisdale – and the West Side in general – haven’t been as fortunate. So it would be hard to view this development as anything other than is an absolute win for them.
And excellence aside, the award-winning Wildebeest is very much a fun-loving eatery, so I imagine they’ll get a lot of kicks out of doing pizza. “We want to be a neighbourhood restaurant,” Pape says, “but want to play a little bit, too.”