Inside a black tent, Vincenzo Bruno-Marchi kneads a pillow of dough with flour, before tossing the flattened disc into the air.
He spreads a thin layer of homemade tomato sauce across the surface, sprinkles it with cheese and arranges an assortment of toppings over the dough.
Then, Bruno-Marchi lifts the handle of a granite oven, imported from Italy, and scoots the pizza inside. Using a large spatula, he turns the dough, making sure all sides of the crust bake under the flame.
Ninety seconds later, he shovels the thin-crust New York-style pizza out of the oven. The cheese, melted beneath a pattern of crisp jalapeños and green chile, sizzles, as Bruno-Marchi shaves away burnt edges of the crust.
Finally, he drops a couple of pepperoncinis in the center of the pizza — “our trademark,” he says.
Bruno’s “The Biz” Authentic Italian Street Food, prides itself for being a family-run business that serves authentic Italian pizzas and desserts from a side-by-side mobile food truck and tent. But more than anything, staff say, the eatery is a homage to a beloved ancestor, Giordano Bruno (1905-92).
“We’re trying to push our Italian heritage,” Bruno-Marchi says. “We do the business in memory of my grandpa.”
Giordano Bruno, born in Milan in 1905, immigrated to the United States in 1918, at first landing in New York and eventually making his way out west. After working at a speakeasy in Salida, Colo., he came to Santa Fe in the early ’30s, where he worked at a local waffle house and then as a chef in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He finally landed in Albuquerque in 1960, where he retired from the food industry.
Bruno-Marchi, 72, says he remembers going to Sunday night spaghetti dinners at his grandpa’s house, complete with Chianti wine, veal Parmesan and spumoni ice cream for dessert. He says some of his fondest memories are of hearing his grandfather’s stories of working at the Coloradan speakeasy during Prohibition and learning to box in Santa Fe in the 1930s.
The restaurant’s logo of a man in boxing gloves depicts Giordano Bruno, family members say. And the business’s “most unique” offering — a white pizza with Sicilian olive oil, locally sourced mozzarella, ricotta from New York, arugula, mushrooms, Italian salami and onions — is named after Giordano Bruno’s boxing nickname, “Punchy.”
“He was really something else,” Bruno-Marchi says, adding his grandpa’s most notable quality was his passion for food.
“I think [I get my love of cooking] because of my grandpa,” Bruno-Marchi says. From a young age, he explains, he’s embraced the trope “food is life, and life is food,” first learning to make pizza dough as a toddler.
After retiring from an 18-year career in the military in 1981, Bruno-Marchi, who lives part-time in Santa Fe and otherwise in Albuquerque, says he founded an Italian sandwich catering business in Albuquerque called Chile Deli and Catering.
In 2012, he and his family launched Bruno’s as a private, catering-only business. Three years later, the family decided to launch today’s two-day-a-week business that also caters to large parties and is a vendor at special events.
In 2016, Bruno-Marchi says, he found an ambulance for sale in Colorado and decided to convert it into a food truck, where staff now create Italian desserts and run an oxygen bar.
The next venture, Bruno-Marchi says, is to become a brick-and-mortar operation, hopefully by the end of this year.
Since its inception, the family has “put a lot of love into [the business],” says Joe Frazier, Bruno-Marchi’s nephew-in-law who serves part time. “We find the best ingredients — from the flours, even down to the waters we put in the dough.”
“There’s a lot of passion put into the food quality,” agrees Trent Wooters, one of Bruno-Marchi’s son-in-laws, who helps out at the food truck “for fun” in addition to his full-time job at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Every pizza, Bruno-Marchi explains, is made with two different flours — one from New York City and one from Italy — as well as local IPA beers from spots such as Second Street Brewery and Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. The brews, Bruno-Marchi says, boost flavor and help the dough to rise, preserving a crunchy texture in the crust.
Additionally, the sauce, he says, is imported from Italy, the mozzarella cheese is sourced from various New Mexico dairies, and the ricotta comes from New York.
“Whatever we can, we get from Italy … or New York” — known for its Italian food scene, he says.
While a majority of pizza companies add xanthan gum and hydrogenated oil to dough, so it can be frozen, Bruno-Marchi says his family makes pizzas daily and avoids adding any “junk” to their recipes.
“There’s no processed foods. It’s all natural,” he says. “Everything has to be fresh.”
Pizza flavors range from traditional margherita with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, which Bruno-Marchi grows himself, to pepperoni with roasted garlic and the Tre Carne featuring salami, pepperoni and spicy Italian sausage.
Sweets sold from the food truck include homemade cannoli, biscotti, spumoni ice cream, espresso granitas — a sort of coffee-flavored shaved ice beverage made with cold brew espresso, filtered water and cane juice — and tiramisu. For some special events, Bruno’s also makes fried pizza doughs topped with Nutella and gelato.
Because the business tries to incorporate a “1920s speakeasy theme,” the gelatos are all infused with liquors, such as bananas Foster, cranberry gin and Irish cream.
The family’s dedication to authentic Italian foods, Bruno-Marchi says, has resulted in somewhat of a “cult following.” Regulars call in orders every Tuesday night when Bruno’s is based at Santa Fe Brewing at The Bridge, as well as pop by Meow Wolf during lunch on Wednesdays. One customer, the family says, drives up from Albuquerque every Friday to get two pizzas for her family.
This, Bruno-Marchi says, is why he does what he does.
“The best part is having someone try our pizza and say, ‘Damn, that’s a good pizza,’ ” he says.
Many of the customers, he says, are Italian families and tourists from New York.
“They say, ‘This tastes like Italy.’ People say, ‘Your pizza reminds me of home.’ ”