The Buzz on Barbuzzo: Wood-Fired Pizza and a Bowling Ball in the Wall

Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney
Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney Photo: Center City District

Now that Sampan and Zavino have opened their doors, we’re been wondering about the status of that other restaurant project on South 13th Street. We’re talking about Barbuzzo, the Mediterranean spot from chef Marcie Turney and partner Valerie Safran which was originally slated for a fall 2009 opening. We spoke with Turney to get the details on the new restaurant, which will be the empire-building duo’s sixth business on the 100 block of South 13th Street (they also own BYOs Lolita, Bindi, prepared foods store Grocery, home furnishings store Open House and garden store/chocolate shop Verde) and their first with a liquor license. She filled us in on the menu, decor and “the craziest demo ever.”

Turney says to expect an “affordable” menu of shareable small and large plates with influences from the cuisine of Southern France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. She and sous chef George Sabatino are currently preparing housemade salumi and putting up mostardas and conservas, as well as preserving Meyer lemons. They’re installing a wood-burning oven and will be using it to roast vegetables, meats and to make three to four varieties of Neapolitan-style pizzas, plus homemade focaccia, olive bread and possibly a crisp, cracker-like Sardinian flatbread.

Pastas will also be made on the premises, or just next door to the premises in the glass-walled kitchen in the back of Verde, which Turney currently uses to make her signature line of chocolates, Marcie Blaine. They’re still working out the details, but the wine list will focus on “small batch artisanal wines” mostly from Italy, Spain and Portugal and should run between $7 and $9 a glass.

The duo are working on the interior with the help of architectural salvage firm Provenance, who also worked with Amis and Oyster House, to give the room a Mediterranean farmhouse feel. There room will seat 68 at a combination of tables, a 16-foot bar and a 20-foot counter in front of what Turney describes as a “very long, very open” kitchen. They’re also putting on a new front which will have windows that open out to the street.

The space, which used to be one half of Robin’s Bookstore (Verde now occupies the other half) has been completely gutted - in what Turney says was “the craziest demo ever.” While stripping down four layers of drop ceilings and pulling walls down to the brick, she says they discovered some unusual items hidden in the walls - like a sparkly blue bowling bowl engraved with the words “Pork Chop,” which she bequeathed to a sous chef - plus golf clubs.

Barbuzzo, which is a play on a Tuscan word for “full belly,” is shooting for an early April opening. The liquor license is already in place.

Barbuzzo, 110 S. 13th St. no phone yet

The Buzz on Barbuzzo: Wood-Fired Pizza and a Bowling Ball in the Wall