Sherman's Food Adventures: Bufala Edgemont

Bufala Edgemont

It's nice to see better dining options opening in non-traditional locations all over the Lower Mainland.  Once upon a time, all we would find in the burbs were chain restaurants and "just good enough" spots for their given locations.   More recently, we've seen outposts of established "good" restaurants popping in seemingly random storefronts.  One of the newest is Bufala out in Edgemont VIllage in North Vancouver.  I've been to the original one in Kerrisdale and came away satisfied with their Neapolitan-style pizzas.  Whereas the menu is limited at that location, the new one sports a more comprehensive selection.

We decided to see if it was worth the drive through rush-hour traffic across the 2nd Narrows Bridge.  Well, the place was definitely bustling for a Friday night where if we hadn't made a reservation, we would've been out of luck.  To kick things off, we had the Arancini as well as the Polenta.  Stuffed with mushroom risotto and mozzarella, these were crispy and at the right temperature throughout.  We enjoyed how the risotto was not mushy and had a thick consistency where it didn't fall apart on contact.  Underneath, there was a smoky aioli which was creamy and mild-tasting.  Off to the polenta, they were fried in cubes topped with pecorino romano and served atop salsa verde.  We thought the exterior of the fried polenta was too firm and dry.  However, it was fluffy and light inside.  Flavours were subtle, but the cheese provided a saltiness while the salsa verde was bright.

While we were dividing up the Meatballs, they seemed pretty firm to each cut from the knife.  Our fears that it would be dense were alleviated as the pork and beef meatball was tender and juicy with a pleasant rebound texture.  It was tasty on its own, but the muted tanginess of the marinara helped add another layer of flavour as well as the saltiness from the parmigiano.   Now that was good, but the Burrata was even better.  Majestically placed atop roasted squash and topped with hazelnuts in an aromatic oil, this was appetizing just to look at it.  We added an order of prosciutto on the side for good measure and when we combined all of the ingredients atop toasted sourdough, the textures and flavours were impactful.  There was the creaminess of the cheese as well as the crunch from the bread while the salty chewiness of the prosciutto added a hit of salt.  Finally, the hazelnuts were the umami aromatic compliment that made this more than just meat and cheese.

Yes, it is true that the appies were pretty solid.  In fact, I was curious about some of the other options on the menu.  In the end, we knew that some greens was probably a good interlude before the main dishes.  Therefore, we ordered the Kale Caesar with parmigiano, bacon and anchovy.  What a great way to make a salad super tasty!  I know, this probably took away from the "healthier" aspect, but who cares?  We loved how they only plucked the most tender parts of the kale and served them in small bite-sized pieces.  The briny saltiness of the anchovies really came though and the salad was not over-dressed.  Predictably, the bacon only made the salad better with body and smoky saltiness.  Onto the pastas, the first one to hit the table was the Spaghetti with albacore tuna, olives, anchovy and capers in a "Puttanesca" style.  Generally, puttanesca is plenty salty and briny which I personally enjoy. Others at the table seem to think that the pasta was too salty.  I guess taste is subjective, so if you prefer your pastas more mild, this would not be for you.

On the other hand, the 2 other pastas, Pappardelle and Rigatoni, were universally loved.  Tender, yet still al dente, the pappardelle was delicate in terms of texture and taste.  The combination of smoked pork hock ragu, caraway, black pepper and parmigiano created a creamy umaminess that was impactful enough without being salty.  There was a background smokiness from the pork while the caraway added another layer of earthiness.  Best of all, there was not a whole lot of moisture to the pasta (which kept it from being soggy), but all the flavours were there regardless.  As for the Rigatoni, it was a more straightforward offering with firmly al dente tubes of pasta enveloped by a beef & pork bolognese finished with parmigiano.  Rich and meaty while not heavy, the bolognese was balanced while somewhat one-note.  However, that didn't detract from the overall eating enjoyment.

For our one pizza, we decided to forgo the basic Margherita and went for the Pepperoni instead since the kids lobbied for it.  I actually wanted the bone marrow pizza, but that idea was shot down.  In addition to the pepperoni, we found mozzarella, parmigiano, oregano and marinara sauce which created some classic flavours.  There was enough tang in the sauce to keep things from being dull and the amount of pepperoni was just right.  With enough charring, the pizza crust was nutty and crispy throughout, even at the centre (although it was predictably a bit softer there).  For our mains, we shared the only 2 on the menu including the Heritage Flat Iron Steak.  As evidenced in the picture, the 7oz Alberta beef steak was prepared rare.  It was well-rested and the result was a tender chew with plenty of meatiness.  While the steak itself wasn't aggressively seasoned, the topping of peperonata offered some sweetness and light spice.  The side of polenta was super creamy and a good compliment.

One of the best dishes of the night was the Peach Country Lamb Shank served atop mushroom risotto.  The braised and subsequently oven roasted shank was absolutely perfect.  Beyond the caramelized exterior portion, the meat underneath was gelatinous and fork tender.  It was full-flavoured from the braise with the promise of rosemary (from the menu).  Now the shank was good, but the risotto was the proverbial icing on the cake as it was cheesy, rich, woodsy and perfectly executed.  As we moved onto dessert, the selection on the menu was a little sparse as we ordered everything that was listed including the Tiramisu.  This consisted of the classic lady fingers, amaretto, espresso and marscapone, but in terms of execution, it was different.  Now it looked like a regular tiramisu, but the lady fingers were barely soaked.  As a result, they ate drier, less sweet and with mild hits of espresso.  For some, this would be texturally wrong, but for me, I enjoyed it since there was plenty of creamy marscapone to make up for it.  I also liked how it was not as sweet too.

The other 2 desserts were a variation of soft-serve ice cream with the kiddies each snagging a Vanilla Soft Serve with chocolate sauce.  Nothing particular unusual about the sundae as it was pretty straightforward.  The soft-serve was a little on the melty side and not overly creamy, but it wasn't too sweet and the chocolate sauce wasn't overbearingly sugary.  For the adults, we tried the Boozy Affogato with soft serve, espresso, amaretto and cookie crumb.  Since the ice cream was melty, it became even more so after the espresso and amaretto was poured on top.  It was more effective as a drink (as affogato should be) than a dessert.  It tasted great though with the bitterness of the espresso bringing down the sweetness of the soft-serve.  Not that the desserts were bad, yet compared to the rest of the meal, they were weaker.  About the rest of the dinner...  It was fantastic and we would gladly brave the traffic to come back.

The Good:
- Spot on execution
- Attentive service despite being busy
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:
- Desserts were weak in comparison to the rest of the meal
- Dining room is lively, but the acoustics make it really loud


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