Menuplease: Bruciante’s Stole a Pizza My Heart

Bruciante, adj, Italian, m/f. .che brucia, accesa, acceso, brillante. English:  Burning, fired, lit up, blazing, on fire. Verb, to scorch, to sear, to burn, to burn up

Though there have been ovens as long as people have been cooking (any covered vessel or firepit containing food and heated from an external source may be said to work on the same principle as an oven), it was not until tribes stopped wandering and settled into stable non-nomadic groups that ovens began to be developed past the rudimentary stage. (Interestingly, ovens were apparently developed worldwide independently by peoples who had no knowledge of the folks 6000 miles away.)Flues were added as was insulation to prevent fires from escaping and to ensure a continuous heat. As these little villages moved from hunting food to growing it, grains and grasses were harvested, dried, ground, and made into breads. Likewise, yeast has captured and used in cookery since 4000 BC (give or take a few years),  making leavened bread possible.  It probably wasn’t great bread, but provender is provender. When your main objective in life is to escape the plague, the Barbarians at the gate, and Things That Go Bump In The Night, seeking out the perfect baguette is low on your priority list.

For the next several millennia, cooks dealt with the imperfections and fluctuations of ovens heated with wood, coal, oil, kerosene, peat, and dung (yes). Given the guesswork involved in gauging oven temperatures as well as the laughably vague recipes passed down from previous generations of cooks, there must have been an enormous failure rate for baked grain products. It wasn’t until the first quarter of the 20th Century that ovens with temperature regulation became widely available, coinciding with a brief mania for a “scientific” approach to food preparation.  As modern kitchen equipment & techniques evolved with precise temperatures and measurements spelled out, perfection seemed virtually guaranteed.  Nowadays the plague, Barbarians, and ghoulies & ghosties & long-legged beasties aren’t as worrisome as they once were, so we have the luxury of enjoying perfectly-baked bread and related foods for more than just their life-sustaining properties.

It may seem a few giant steps backwards, then, that purveyors of bread products are now embracing a return to wood-fired ovens. Why would anyone in their right mind willingly give up the convenience of gas- or electric-fired ovens to stand over a huge primitive oven, feeding it handfuls of wood, just to bake?  You can talk all you want about the purity of such foods, the creation of artisan breads & pizzas, exploring ancient methods of food production,  but the only answer that matters: it’s better.

Bruciante Wood Fired Pizza opened on Hilltop Drive late last year in a kiosk formerly occupied by a drive-through coffee flogger.  Pizzas are made to order and baked on a portable wood-fired oven hauled around on a trailer. It takes no longer and costs no more to get a 10-inch pizza than it does to go into a cafe and get a sandwich – and this is truly wonderful pizza.

House salad, $6.00

Just because there’s always someone who says, “Oooh, I’m on a diet,” Bruciante makes a colorful, delicious house salad, and it’s worth ordering whether you’re on a diet or not. Mixed organic greens with dried cranberries, candied pecans, a choice of blue cheese or feta, and a perfect blend of  Lucero olive oil and balsamic vinegar – this is one of the very best salads in Redding, and at a bargain price. We picked the last tiny leaves out of the container and squabbled over the last of the balsamic-soaked cranberries.

Blue moo, $9.00 plus $1.00 for tomato addition

Blue cheese on a pizza? Yes, please. This tangy pizza combined bits of top sirloin, blue and mozzarella cheeses on red sauce, Femme de Joie requested cooked tomatoes to be added for an acid bite to contrast with the rich cheeses. This was the first pizza we tried at Bruciante, and how very fine it was. M. de Joie and Amico del Signore exulted over the tender crust that still supported the ingredients without collapsing, the quality of ingredients, and the smoky edge of wood-fired flavor.

Smokey basil, $8.00 plus $1.00 for tomato addition

A variation of the classic margherita pizza, smoked mozzarella substitutes for plain and gives the impression that you’re eating a pizza with meaty flavors. A thin drizzle of basil olive oil set off the raw cherry tomatoes (added by request) beautifully. Think of bruschetta – this was a like a cheesy baked bruschetta, though not overwhelmed with so much cheese that it was a fatty globule atop a crust.

Caesar salad, $6.00

In addition to the house salad, Bruciante makes a special salad every day. Caesar was the traditional Romaine lettuce with a lemony-tart creamy dressing, croutons, and mizithra cheese in place of the usual Parmesan. Femme de Joie practically requires anchovies on her Caesar but recognizes that most people run screaming from the room if faced with one of those salty, oily little fillets, so she will let this matter slide for now. The mizithra cheese almost made up for it. Not familiar with mizithra? Well, if Parmesan is subtle, earthy and aged, the essence of umami of cheeses, then mizithra is sharp, snappy, and in-your-face.

Blazin’ Buffalo, $9.00

Chicken on pizza has never appealed to M. de Joie. It just seems so wrong. But here the chicken breast is shredded into a spicy Buffalo-wing sauce to keep it moist – none of those odd little moon rock-like pellets of desiccated chicken here – and topped with mozzarella, blue cheese, and more of that delectable mizithra cheese. For full enjoyment: have cold bottles of beer in refrigerator. Put beer mug in freezer. Call Bruciante and order Blazin’ Buffalo (maybe two). Go pick up pizza and bring home. Pop open beer, pour into frozen mug. Stuff face. You’ll thank us later.

Let us be clear: this is not pizza as most Americans think of pizza. No pile-it-all-on combinations. No extra-gargantuan-stuffed-crust pizza to feed six people. You don’t have a choice of twenty-five toppings. No, this is the Mies van de Rohe of pizza. The ingredients are sourced locally and organic if possible – you can get an additional veggie (say, zucchini or bell peppers) from the farmer’s market added to your pizza for one measly buck; sometimes Sweetie’s Barbecue is called up to provide smoked meats for specialty pizzas. Dough and sauces are house-made. It’s too bad that beer isn’t served because this pizza really deserves a cold one with it, but that problem is solved by taking it home and enjoying it there. M. de Joie wasn’t expecting to see top-quality pizza in Redding anytime soon, so the appearance of Bruciante has made her – and A. del Signore – very, very happy. This place deserves to succeed.

Bruciante Wood Fired Pizza, 2491 Hilltop Drive #C,  at the corner of Commerce (north of IHOP in a parking lot by Remax), Redding. 530-242-6128. Open Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Cash, cards. Closed weekends. Drive-though or eat at one of the tables. No alcohol. Vegetarian & vegan options. Small parking lot on-site. Follow them on Facebook here.

Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Chamberlain, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

22 Responses

  1. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    We discovered Bruciante a few weeks ago and have been twice, trying different offerings both times and finding each one perfect. (Yeah, we took it home for the beer accompaniment). One of my favorite pizzas is au naturale — just garlicky white sauce, a little mozzarella, and basil. I haven't ordered it at Bruciante yet, but what prompted me to ask if it would be available was seeing a basil plant growing in a pot under a tree beside the outdoor table. When I asked if an au naturale pizza could be made, the answer was, "We want you to have the exact pizza you want." Such nice people. I'll have to ask for them to add mizithra since I've not tried it. Thanks for the great review, Femme de Joie. These very nice people deserve to succeed.

  2. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    OMG, OMG . . . . I haven't had a perfect pizza since I left Laco Ameno. Be still my heart! The very best pizza I ever experienced was from a food truck (complete with wood oven) at a marcato in the little tiny town of Acerra just north of Naples.

    I've heard wonderful things about this pizza, but now that Mm de Joie has given the stamp of approval, it's on my list to do . . . THIS WEEK!!!

    thanx!!

  3. Avatar c says:

    Does the title of your story reference a certain pizza place in Capitola? (If it does, then that is dang good pizza)

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear C,

      No, it references the old Janis Joplin song, "Piece of My Heart," from whence the place in Capitola almost certainly borrowed it.

      Thanks for reading,

      Femme de Joie

  4. Avatar Handouts Don't says:

    Bruciante is a really good pizza!

    These ovens are quite interesting. The water in the dough steams and vaporizes almost instantly and causes the crust to rise and bubble so quickly. The cheese will bubble in about 30 second.

    Well worth trying!

  5. Avatar kirsten says:

    You've done it again! Now I have 2 new places to try! Frankly, I had almost given up on something really INTERESTING in the burg………… it seems that every new eating place offers just about the same menu, but in different disguises. Mostly overpowered with way to many different ingredients and spices together, which leaves ALL the choices on the menu tasting just about the same.

    You do a great service to Redding. And you make me laugh………….. which is a very good thing.

    Lady Kirsten

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Lady Kirsten,

      For something really interesting, try Bruciante's The Grape pizza – pesto, grapes, and candied pecans. Or ask them to come up with a wild combination – they're more than willing to experiment and work with the customer.

      Thanks for reading,

      Femme de Joie

  6. Avatar George Parker says:

    I LOVE their pizza. I've had several, and try to get a different one each time.

  7. Avatar Canda says:

    Absolutely the best pizza I've had in this area. I believe you can enjoy their delicious pizzas at the farmer's market on Saturdays. Love em all!

    • Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

      The last time I attended the Saturday Market, the pizza provider was Cinders rather than Bruciante. That may have changed. Cinders also baked in a mobile wood-fired oven and was very good.

  8. Cinders Wood Fired Pizza is the pizza vendor at the SGA Farmers Market at City Hall. It is easy to confuse us both, as we have a very similar wood fired oven and started business around the same time. I imagine we both get our fair share of being mistaken for each other 🙂

    • We are lucky to have both of these wood-fired pizza businesses.

      Thanks for clarifying, Cyndel. And btw, won't you also be opening a brick-and-mortar location soon?

      • Avatar Handouts Don't says:

        Doni – you asked me to make more positive comments.

        Here is the best one that just about sums up everything.

        As Homer Simpson would say…

        mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • I don't think I've ever asked for exclusively positive comments, but I do ask that the comments remain civilized, even when we disagree.

          And the comments we like best are the ones where people have the courage to use their real names (even a first initial with a last name works).

          As long as I'm on the topic, what really drives me batty are those who comment under a bunch of different names. I mean, why? What's gained by that?

    • Yes Doni! We're set to open this fall in Market Square, near Grilla Bites in the old Fassolini's building! Very excited to have a location!

  9. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Really love pizza, especially with lots of garlic. However, I do like the thin crust, and maybe that doesn't work too well in the wood fired oven. Thanks for the article. Now I am hungry.

  10. Avatar Dustin says:

    My family and I tried this place last night! Amazing!

  11. Avatar Laurie says:

    Excellent pizza. I had the Smokey Basil. I wish they were open on weekends as I'm not always able to get to Redding during the work week. I might recommend an extra umbrella at the large table on those hot summer afternoons. Nice people, great food.

  12. Avatar Scott says:

    I have wanted to try them for some time, thanks for the info…now I must try them. As an aside, if you feel it is necessary to freeze your beer mugs prior to serving beer in them, you need to drink better beer! Cold is NOT a taste, in spite of what the macro-brewer using that as a slogan would have you think. Super cold beer dulls your taste buds. For a pale, bland macro-lager, I would suggest near freezing temps so you don't have to endure the taste (such as it is, gah!); for other lagers, weizens, and lighter ales, temps around 39-45 F are acceptable; and for the pale ales, IPA's and belgian ales (doubel, tripel, strong golden, saison) 45 up to as high as 57 F is acceptable. Some strong ales (such as barleywine, imperial IPA, imperial stout, and the like) can be enjoyed at around 60 F. Beer pairs very well with food, sometimes even better than wine!

    • Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

      Along those same lines, "room temperature" for red wines doesn't mean house temperature. It originally meant cellar temperature which is 58 degrees. And as Scott said about beer, white wines shouldn't be served freezing cold, either; 39*45 F is ideal.

  13. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    This may not be the proper venue for my comment, but since Femme de Joie mentioned Sweetie's in the article, I want to tell all that Sweetie's is now open for dinner and that we just returned from there. I had salmon alfredo and Husband had the pork chop, both smoked in house. Although we could each eat only half our plates, we forced ourselves to have crème brule (me) and blackberry cobbler (him) for dessert. Fortunately our Redding house is only a couple of blocks from Sweetie's; so we waddled home. We plan to have pizza from Bruciante's for lunch tomorrow. Yes, our waistlines are sorry.