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Bufala’s Newest Italian-Inspired Pizzeria Set to Open in River District, March 1st

Bufala River District, the latest offspring of Gooseneck Hospitality (Bells & Whistles, Bufala, Lucky Taco), is all set to swing open its doors on Friday, March 1st.

Located at 3489 Sawmill Crescent in Southeast Vancouver, the Italian-inspired pizzeria – a fresh take on the age-old neighbourhood trattoria – should be endearing the community with molto bene Neapolitan-style pizza, expertly twirled plates of homemade pasta and good wine in no time.

Bufala River District shapes up as a smart yet welcoming space, courtesy of a design executed by Ste. Marie Studio. Although the windows were still papered up at the time of my visit a few weeks ago, between their massive size and nearly 20-foot high ceilings, the room was light and airy without being cold. Subtle touches – like wood-framed benches and table tops, and hits of green running through the marble bar, counters, table bases and lighting fixtures –  help give the space a grounded feeling. There are also loads of mirrors and an impressive number of lights, which I imagine casting a warm and beckoning glow at night. It’s a very pretty room. “But is it too pretty, too fancy for a community that is just starting out?” someone asked, while I was wandering the room in its pre-opening state.

Co-owner James Iranzad responded: “In this corner of Vancouver, on the edge of the city, everything is new. And everything about the community is aspirational. Relatively speaking, it’s an ‘approachable’ place for people to move and start a new chapter of life. To me (and to us as a restaurant group), the aspiration and building of a new community – that’s exciting. I don’t need to be concerned bout Bufala being too fancy because this restaurant is us, and the human side of what we’ll bring to the room will make it comfortable for people. If we were assholes – sure, the room would feel too posh. But because we love design, we can create a room that is beautiful like this one, and trust that our training and our people will allow guests to never feel out of their element. This is just the room; the community complete the restaurant and give it soul.”

The expansive 80-seat dining room (with a 45-seat patio to come) offers a practical layout to accommodate different group sizes and dining preferences – a consideration consistent across Gooseneck Hospitality restaurants, and one intended to create a changing dynamic for the guest. As Iranzad explains: “We like good flow and variety in a room. Since there are only a few restaurants in this area, we want to ensure that our customers don’t feel like a single visit to Bufala is enough. We’ve created a variety of settings and styles to offer a new experience with every visit. Whether you’re alone at the bar, celebrating a special occasion in a booth with family or friends, enjoying a quiet date, or relaxing on the patio with a book and a Negroni in the afternoon sun, there’s a different side of Bufala to make you feel at home.”

This flexibility and variety extend to the menu: you can hit them up for a quick Woodstone-oven-fired pizza or an easy pasta, or order some small plates to your glass of wine with a friend before dinner…or enjoy a slow, multi-course meal with wine, entree and dessert. The culinary team – spearheaded by Bufala’s Executive Chef Kevin Atkinson alongside Bufala River District’s Head Chef Eddie Muñoz (Nightingale, Autostrada, and Bacaro) – also plan to introduce a few dishes unique to this Bufala location, including Roast Chicken (accompanied by chestnut and truffle sausage, and sage & red huckleberry bread pudding in a marsala chicken jus) and some tasty-looking Quattro Fromaggi Arancini (using a blend of Parmigiano, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and Smoked Provolone). The beverage menu is equally diverse, offering an extensive range of wines – hat tip to General Manager Lisa Cook, (previously of Savio Volpe and La Tana) for her picks – as well as local beers, a to-the-point cocktail list, and espresso, of course.

Bufala opens Friday, March 1st. Brunch enthusiasts, stay tuned – your call will be answered soon. In the meantime, take a look at behind-the-scene photos in the gallery below; and, if this is the first your hearing of this project, get the backstory here.

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Bufala (River District)
3489 Sawmill Crescent

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