ORLANDO, Fla. – Bruno Zacchini is best known in Orlando as the owner of Pizza Bruno, but he did not always have a love for pizza.
“Pizza was always like an afterthought for me, especially in the restaurant world,” Zacchini said. “I didn’t like doing it. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have any joy of doing it or whatever.”
That started to change for Zacchini when he was working as a chef consultant for Third Wave Cafe in New Smyrna Beach.
“The owners are like, ‘Hey, we want to do crepes in the morning and woodfired pizza at night,’” he said. “I was like, ‘OK, you’re gonna make some good pizza. And that’s the focus,’ because originally, that’s all they wanted to do. But as you know, New Smyrna grew and the place got well known and better known, they want to expand the menu — and we did over time — but the pizza, I really enjoyed it.”
At the time, Zacchini was living in College Park, and the daily commute became a major chore. So, in 2015, Zacchini started doing pop-ups around Orlando. He almost set up a space in the Mills 50 area, but it ultimately fell through.
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It wasn’t until February 2016 that a space would ultimately become available in the Curry Ford West neighborhood.
“I had a very little amount of money — like a scary small amount, which I look back I was like, ‘What was I thinking?’” Zacchini said. “(I) financed everything to the hilt and took some crazy interest rates to get some things done, but I opened and I had no intentions other than making pizza how I wanted to.”
Pizza Bruno has since become an institution in the Curry Ford West neighborhood. Zacchini recently expanded his business, opening a second location in Orlando’s College Park.
The new location serves a slightly different kind of pizza, more akin to a New Jersey-style pie.
Zacchini also has his sights set on opening a new restaurant just a few doors down from his second location.
“We’re doing a donut shop right now,” he said. “I happen to be there and we’re building out the College Park store which is now open but graffiti junction actually got rid of I guess this extra seating space but it used to be a restaurant.”
Zacchini reached out to the landlords and they liked his idea. Zacchini is now working to open Dizzy Donuts. The idea is to sell hot cake donuts, just like the kind he finds when he visits New Jersey, which is where his wife is from and where Zacchini spent many of his summers growing up.
“They have a couple places (in New Jersey) that do these hotcake donuts,” he said. “So originally, one of the first places (my wife) brought me to was Frog Hollow which is not on the boardwalk. It’s like in this in the backwoods. You wouldn’t even know it’s there. It’s like this little hobbit house but they do hotcake doughnuts. They’re delicious.”
In addition to doughnuts, Zacchini wants to offer chicken karaage sandwiches. Karaage is a style of Japanese fried chicken that is typically served as a bar snack.
“I’m not trying to compete with the chicken battle that’s happening in Orlando at all,” he said. “It was a way to extend the hours, and then potentially offer something for lunch.”
On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Zacchini talks about when he hopes to have his doughnut shop open to the public. He also shares his personal pizza preferences and how he got started working in kitchens as a teenager.
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Florida Foodie is a biweekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.