AUTHENTIC ITALIAN PIZZA RESTAURANT FRATELLI LA BUFALA CLOSES

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Fratelli La Bufala opened with so much promise on 76th street and Broadway two years ago. The restaurant served authentic Italian pizzas and bufala mozzarella, using methods and equipment imported directly from Italy.

Last weekend the restaurant was closed inexplicably. One reader said there was a sign up about “technical problems.” But the restaurant is now closed for good, an employee said. The tables and chairs have been removed.

fratelli8Fratelli has thrived in Italy, and opened successful locations in other cities like Miami. But this one never seemed to click. We heard people praise the pizza, but several complained about the service.

With Rigoletto gone, that makes two pizza spots closed in one week. Luckily, Patsy’s and City Pie are nearby.

Read our post about the restaurant’s opening here.

Top photo by Kenneth. Pizza photo by Phil Vasquez. Thanks to Kenneth and Warren for the tips.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 32 comments | permalink
    1. EdontheUWS says:

      We seem to have reached a tipping point where NO moderately priced neighborhood diner or pizza place can survive, and it’s tragic. This is the place that replaced Big Nick’s other restaurant, Niko’s.. which was forced out by higher rents. Niko’s, Big Nick’s, Dean’s, Amsterdam Diner, Popover Cafe are all gone. Fratelli, btw, seemed expensive and the menu was not that impressive.

      • James says:

        Other than the price point, Niko’s, Big Nick’s, and Amsterdam Diner had another thing in common – they were all terrible. Fratelli was overpriced and suffered terrible press when they first opened. i don’t think they ever recovered from the poor first impression.

        • Cato says:

          I can’t speak to Amsterdam Diner, not having been. But Niko’s and Big Nick’s were regular haunts of ours, and were always crowded. And the demise of both places is regularly mourned here, and elsewhere.

          It’s really remarkable how *so* many people were just so *wrong* about those two places, isn’t it? How is it that *so* many people just didn’t realize how bad you now tell us they were? You’re really very lucky to have taste that is sooooo much better than the rest of us have!

          But, PS, I share your — and seemingly everyone else’s — assessment of Fratelli. Went there once shortly after it opened, thought the food was ok, thought the space was cramped, thought the whole operation was horribly disorganized. And never felt the urge to try it again.

          Arrividerci!

        • geoff says:

          i’m one of the non-believers too—i always thought Big Nick’s had great set dressing and design, but little substance. i always checked it out for its visuals but never ate there (or at a few other beloved places), ever.

          then, once Vinnie’s went ‘double wide’ (on amsterdam between 73 and 74) it was over for me and that was many years ago.

          but as things go, later i found another older joint that’s pretty good, all things considered. totally hispanic, small, quick, serious, 5 or 6 tables: Traviata Pizza, at 101 west 68 serves a pretty good slice at a pretty good price.

          it’s my go to pizza joint.

    2. PizzaGuy says:

      No one likes to see a business fail, especially a restaurant like this that opened with so much promise. However, I’m not surprised. I ate there twice, the pizza was good, but not great and as mentioned, the service was not that good. What made me stop going there was the filthy/dirty men’s room … disgusting.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: the above “What made me stop going there was the filthy/dirty men’s room … disgusting.”

        THANK YOU, PizzaGuy, for bringing up the dirty little secret of too-many restaurants.

        No matter how good (or bad) the food, the restroom experience is too often the worst part of the night.

        How about:
        1) impossibly tiny spaces that are ridiculously small, ESPECIALLY for anyone with a walker or other disability-aid;
        2) slippery floors that look as if they haven’t been washed in weeks;
        3) doors that are impossibly heavy and hard to open.

        Not sure if the quality of the restroom is part of the Dept. of Health letter-rating, but if not it really should be!

        Are you listening, Council-member Rosenthal??

      • RK says:

        Whenever I go into a local pizzeria, I check out the cleanliness of the bathrooms and then have that reflect the quality of the pizza.

        Not…

    3. UWS-er says:

      This place had the world’s worst service. Really awful.

    4. Tom says:

      And they didn’t/wouldn’t deliver?! Don’t recall them on Seamless or Grubhub.

    5. Enzo says:

      The pizza was a gloppy mess when I tried it once. More of a soup, actually, than a pizza. And expensive as well. So it’s not surprising to observe its demise. Few independent restaurants can afford the rents on Broadway, so I think we will continue to see the mom-and-pops closing and the chains moving in. Very sad indeed.

    6. Jeff says:

      This place was garbage. Just abhorrent service. Good riddance.

    7. Becca says:

      Overpriced and not all that good. I never went back after the first time.

    8. RobWest says:

      Place had horrible service and Serrafina opening ddelivered the knockout blow

    9. Beth says:

      Worst service ever.

    10. geoff says:

      so, let’s look forward. enough with the complaints. where do you go now for decent / good affordable pizza?

      • Judd says:

        Geoff,

        If you are willing to travel a, little ways uptown-Sal and Carmines is terrific, and affordable (102nd Broadway west side). Thin crust, with just a touch of yeast flavor, tangy sauce, and real cheese. A touch salty- but still my favorite after coming there now for 20+ years…and they still don’t know my name-chuckle Also the new pizza place on 93rd and Amsterdam is nice-a bit pricey but very tasty Neapolitan style pizzas.

    11. Mike says:

      Can’t speak about Fratelli, the menu never enticed me enough to bother. But to the point of the neighborhood changes, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments that almost no modestly priced restaurants still exist in the neighborhood. Even Pubs serving decent food are almost extinct. Every sit-down place within 5 blocks of Lincoln Center requires a mortgage to be refinanced for a patron to enter. I can think of only a small handful of restaurants (not including 3 diners, McDonald’s, pizza, falafel or Chipotle) where 2 adults and a child can eat for less than triple digits between 60th & Broadway and 75th and Bwy/Columbus/Amsterdam. All the others have been moved out by high-priced star chefs or designer stores. I don’t blame the landlords for expecting market rates for their properties, but the neighborhood is slowly but surely beginning to resemble strips of high-priced residences surrounding miniature pockets of strip malls.

      Best pizza that’s still available between 60th and 72nd? La Traviata for takeout or delivery, Pizza Joint or Francesco’s if you want some space to sit.

    12. BobBBrown says:

      The food was really not great.
      It could have been however. They had the wood-burning oven and the place looked OK but they could not really go to the next step.
      The waiters were inept. The “house wine” was vinegar. and The meat was rotten.
      You can fool people once, but they’ll never come back… that was the issue.

    13. RomanticEd says:

      Truth is, their pizza was authentic Naples style, which is gooey. And flavorful. And in fact their pizzas were really good if you have visited southern Italy and/or know about Naples style pizzas. I don’t think folks in our neighborhood understood that, and perhaps the owners should have explained it on the menu so people wouldn’t think the pizzas were inadvertently undercooked. It was pricey for what it was but I really loved the pizzas and will miss them. But what everyone has said about the service is true. One time I brought a group and my wife and a friend both ordered a steak dish and got veal and the waitress and then the manager swore it was beef despite the color. Finally the owner came over and admitted the mistake. Meantime my pizza with artichokes turned into a pizza with anchovies – the waitress got that wrong too. It’s a shame. I think it’s hard to please the UWS crowd, which you can sense from reading the comments. But the owners didn’t help themselves with the service – and I say that as a regular who is sadder to see it go than the others appear to be.

    14. Lisa says:

      Fratelli was a terrible restaurant. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. The food was just awful. I ate there once and never again. Hope something better comes in its place.

    15. RK says:

      I’m quite disappointed. Fratelli’s pizza was “real” Neapolitan style pizza, which is SUPPOSED to be a gloppy mess. Comparing to Traviata, Sal&Carmines, etc is apples-to-oranges. Try instead comparing to Motorino, Keste, or Starita by Don Antonio. All at the same price point, all very successful, all blissfully delicious.

      I guess no matter how much we try to dress up the UWS culinarily, we won’t really support contenders.

      Re the rest room comment: really??

      • PizzaGuy says:

        Special Message to “RK”
        Regarding the “rest room comment” that you posted 2 times .. in NO way was it meant to compare the cleanliness of a pizza restaurant with the quality of their pizza … MOST people (except you)realized that … it was an observation I made based on 2 visits to Fratelli, most people would not go back to a restaurant (good or bad) if the restrooms were as disgusting as Fratelli was, especially since the people who work there and make the pizza, etc use the SAME bathroom!

      • James says:

        Was it comparable to Keste, Motorino, or Don Antonio, all of which I’ve enjoyed and purposefully traveled to, passing Fratelli on the way downtown? everything i’ve read says no.

      • webot says:

        I must comment, that it saddens me that their is so much hatred on the Upper West Side.

        whether its regarding new arrivals, new restaurants, anything that does not fit in tiny parameters of what some view as acceptable. This be another example.
        The place was perfectly fine, but was not supported by the community and it went out of business. That happens, but the dancing on its grave , its repulsive.

        Also, regarding chain stores, while I do not love a city of only chains, clearly they provide a service that is needed at the right price points.
        I can recall many sourly service experience at the old time stores with the fabisina owner behind the register in his dusty overpriced store.
        That said , I am sorry to see them go, but life is about change. You should embrase it because the past is not coming back.

        • James says:

          I don’t know that it’s hate. I think it’s more disappointment that, despite all the change, there’s generally very little to get excited about. There are just so few places nearby that are worth returning to regularly.

    16. UWSder says:

      As a longtime USW resident, I admit that I never ate there as the place never inspired setting myself down for a meal. Nikos had local UWS character and charm and pretty good food too. The new place did not charm. It’s hard to rush to dine in a place where the mood and atmosphere disappoint. One block down, Serafina is doing just fine (so it seems). Not to beat up on Fratelli, it just didn’t click with the hood. Look forward to the new place!

      • ExRez says:

        It’s weird what DOES click in the hood. Wine bars and tiny, odd small-dish places along Amsterdam that are prohibitive and cramped.
        But back to dancing on the grave. Fratelli was a weird joint. I went in there once. Was enough. My friend and I ordered a pasta dish. The portion was tiny and tasteless. Halfway thru the “meal,” the manager (?) walked up to our table and stared at me. I discreetly told my friend, who turned to look at him, and the guy didn’t blink, let alone move away. Creepy. Service was minimal, the food was overpriced, and the place had zero atmosphere. Happy to see it gone.

    17. This was unquestionably the worst pizza I have ever eaten…the crust was pathetic, the toppings nothing to write home about. I thought it was a joke the first and only time I went there. I truly believe you cannot mess with New Yorkers when it comes to pizza. And the Fratelli obviously knew nothing about New York when they opened this joint.

    18. Liz says:

      It is really getting harder and harder to find really good pizza in NYC. Forget about the Ray’s and Original, Original Ray’s — they are living off their name.

      Most pizza is not the great fresh made pizza with the pizza guy flipping the dough in front of you before adding the sauce and cheese. Now dough is made in large batches and frozen. Pies are made in advance and reheated and reheated.

      You just can’t get that gooey, stringy cheese slice any more.