The choices at New Orleans newest pizzeria, Bonci, range from the classic, such as margherita and bianca, to exotic topping combinations, such as blueberries and sausage. And although it isn’t entirely reinventing the wheel, there are a few notable differences about the pizzeria’s approach. Customers take a number to wait to buy pizza by the pound, and the business doesn’t accept cash.
Bonci is one of a few pizzerias that are new or replacing former pizza parlors. Bonci opened July 25 in the Warehouse District. Rye & Pie Pizza Bar opened in March in the space that formerly was home to Wood Bistro and Taphouse, and Pizza Domenica will replace the shuttered Echo’s Pizza in Mid-City.
Bonci is the first restaurant to open in the retail spaces of the Julia condominium development, which stretches from St. Charles Avenue to Carondelet Street. The restaurant sits inconspicuously behind floor-to-ceiling glass windows on Julia Street. Its casual dining space has several high communal tables and stools with Edison-style bulbs dangling overhead. As at many pizzerias, customers can peer over a counter to watch cooks assemble pizzas and place them in the ovens. But service is more delicatessen style, with pies in rectangular sheet pans behind glass on the service counter. There is no menu, and what’s on display is what’s offered.
There’s always something new to try in New Orleans.
Customers take a number and can scan the selection of 15 or more types of pizza while waiting to be served. Using scissors, counter servers cut pizza to specified size and place slices in the oven. Customers pay by credit card and again wait for their number to be called.
Bonci’s roots stretch to founding chef Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium Bonci in Rome, Italy. There also are two Bonci locations in Chicago. Pies have thick, airy crusts similar to focaccia, and the restaurant is known for offering a wide array of topping combinations. There are versions using sausages or cured Italian meats such as prosciutto, mortadella and soppressatta. A ragu sauce featured well-seasoned ground beef, and there also are pizzas topped with beef meatballs or chicken Parmesan. Seafood pies have included smoked salmon and burrata and one combined spicy eggplant and octopus. Vegetarian options have included spicy eggplant and a version with zucchini, ricotta, lemon peel and black pepper. There are spicy sauces and toppings such as an arrabbiata pie and one with Calabrian peppers and sausage. Prices range from $9.99 to $18.99 per pound.
Bonci also serves an appetizer called suppli, an arancini-like breaded bundle of spaghetti and risotto. For drinks, there is a small selection of wines, locally brewed beers in cans, Bruce Cost sodas and Harney & Sons teas.
Rye & Pie Pizza Bar opened in the space formerly occupied by Wood Pizza Bistro & Taphouse, which closed in 2018. The new pizzeria also has plenty of seating on the front patio, and its menu is similar to its predecessor. There are classic pies cooked in a wood-burning oven including a margherita pie, a tre carne pizza with Italian sausage and cured meats, a vegetarian pie and a pesto pizza. The menu also includes a few salads, a muffuletta and meatballs served as an appetizer, in a sandwich or on a pizza.
Pizza Domenica will open a location in Mid-City in September. BRG Hospitality, formerly the Besh Restaurant Group, is taking over the location of Echo’s Pizza, which closed in June. Echo’s had been a partnership between owners of Leo’s Bread and the Mediterranean restaurant 1000 Figs. The space has a wood-burning oven, which Pizza Domenica will use to offer a menu identical to its Uptown space, with an assortment of pies, calzones, garlic knots and more. The new location will offer the same happy hour specials, and the bar is expected to have 10 taps offering regional craft beers and wine, a BRG spokesperson says. It will serve lunch and dinner daily.
Sofia offers a modern and light take on Italian cooking that gives diners a different taste of the time-honored cuisine.