When you first walk into Baldinucci Pizza Romana, it feels like you are literally getting a taste and feel of Italy. From the imported dough that took over a year perfecting to the pure olive oil and thoughtfully sourced ingredients, here you will find over 20 types of high quality pies by the slice or whole.
Baldinucci Pizza Romana just opened its first brick-and-mortar at Westbank Market in West Lake Hills, so Austinites can now taste these thoughtfully sourced ingredients on these high quality, authentic pies for themselves. Baldinucci crafts its pizza to deliver authentic Roman and New York pizza, blending together food and art.
Baldinucci is family-owned and operated by husband and wife Salvatore “Sal” and Patricia Baldinucci, along with Sal’s twin brother, Gabriel Baldinucci. You may recognize the Baldinucci name, as it goes all the way back to the Renaissance age with famous artist Filippo Baldinucci, when he curated and documented the greatest artists in the world for the Medici family in Tuscany.
Since then, generations of Baldinucci have found their passion in art and food. Their father, Enrico Baldinucci, was born in Italy. He and their mother opened their first pizzeria in Long Island, New York, in 1977. So making dough and prepping food is in Sal and Gabe’s blood; they learned the culinary craft at a young age. Patricia also acts as an executive chef while using her 25 years of experience in the industry to help run business operations. The trio continues to perfect their craft with all of their industry knowledge and experiences from around the world.
Experience a True Italian Vibe
The store was designed by Gensler and is meant to imitate an Italian sidewalk cafe with lanterns, stamped concrete and pressed tin ceilings. You’ll also find an antique mirror, a one piece southern banquette in dark green (inspired from an Italian sports car from the 50s), marble table, and cafe chairs, all meticulously put together to achieve that Italian vibe. The pans and Moretti ovens were imported from Italy to create that true authentic pizza Italio experience.
“Life is about experiences,” says Gabriel. “We created the experience that we want to get. And if you were in Italy today, this is what you would get.”
The goal was to present a visual feast to the customer, so of course the pizza case is in the center – the heart of the restaurant. When you visually see the pizza right in front of you, you start to see it as an art form. We recommend coming in early to see the glass full of options before everyone has a chance to snag their favorites. (They can always make special requests as well).
The Process of Roman Style Pizza
Let me tell you about the process of Roman style pizza if you’re not familiar. First, they start by importing the flour from Italy. It’s a very finely milled caputo flour so it’s much easier to digest. It’s a high hydration dough, so they use a lot of water (80% hydration), which is very difficult to work with. They then let it ferment after 72 hours, so the yeast really breaks down the sugars and converts them to gasses. That’s how you get those big air pockets inside the dough! (Kind of like a Ciabatta.) It makes it lighter and easier to digest, so when you get done eating it, you don’t feel heavy or full of grease; you feel really good and light. The dough is still strong enough to hold complex combinations of toppings. “We really feel it’s the next big thing in pizza,” said Gabriel. “Since it’s the best of both worlds in that regard.”
The recipes for the toppings were really inspired from three different places. Some of them are traditional recipes from Italy, like the Potato pizza, Margarita, Prosciutto di Parma, and Mortadella.
There’s some that have really evolved out of the pizzaiolo in New York – the generations of pizza makers in New York that started to create the Italian American food on slices. There’s the Lasagna slice for example and the American pepperoni.
Then they have some that are really chef inspired, like their Fig & Arugula or Sausage and Honey with mascarpone and serrano peppers. This one doesn’t even have mozzarella; the mascarpone melts like butter and is on the sweeter side. You have the sweet from the honey and spice from the peppers. (It’s their most popular pizza!) And even with all that, Baldinucci continues to want to innovate new toppings and ingredients. (Stay tuned for a brisket pizza in the near future!)
They also have vegan and gluten free crust: I highly suggest trying the Pizza Alle Verdure. They are able to make a lot of their pizzas vegan, so wherever you see mozzarella, they can sub it out for vegan mozzarella.
Start with the Garlic Knots that are super fluffy and garlicky to get a sneak preview of how delicious this dough is. Sal spent over a year perfecting it, so you know you’re in for greatness. The Eggplant Involtini was something I didn’t expect to love – but I did! Premium Italian ingredients folded into their NY pizza dough with homemade pomodoro sauce and mozzarella.
I have to say – this was genuinely the best pizza that I’ve ever had, and not just in Austin, but even when I visited New York and had some slices. The Bakers Pride Oven was imported from New York so they can create that authentic New York pizza. And let me tell you, the New York Style pepperoni slice was just *chefs kiss! Take it from someone who’s tried plenty of pizzas around the city … this is the BEST pepperoni and margarita pizza you will have. Pair the pepperoni with the Borgo Scopeto 2017 Chianti Classico – one of the popular wines. It pairs perfectly together with the flavorful fresh sauce. It was hard to choose, but my favorite was the Nonna, which is basically a margarita pizza except in Romana style with lots of garlic.
Baldinucci found the perfect market for gourmet pizza by the slice. You may find others that offer by the slice, but usually they only offer 4-5 different kinds and none of them are gourmet like this. And the gourmet pizza you do find, you can never find by the slice. Not everyone wants to commit to a whole pie, which is why people gravitate to Baldinucci. People can’t seem to get enough!
For those who have crust issues, believe me when I say you will scarf down every last bite. Parents will come in and say their kids don’t normally eat the crust, but then they come to Baldinucci and bam, crust issues are gone!
The best part is that even though I ate like five slices of pizza, my stomach did not feel as heavy as you would think it should have. I felt pretty light, and even had some room for gelato. Which by the way – the Stracciatella and pistachio gelato were both phenomenal! The pistachio was clearly the fan favorite, as I heard multiple people order it.
And things just keep getting better! In the future, they plan on adding some espresso so that customers can order Affogato (an Italian coffee-based dessert) with the espresso and gelato together.
When you walk into Baldinucci, it feels like you’re walking into your home away from home – or shall I say, kitchen away from kitchen. It feels like you’re visiting a family member from Italy; you immediately get the sense of family and feel welcomed. I can genuinely feel the love, the passion, the care, and the attention shown into the craft from Sal, Patricia, and Gabriel.
Pizza is the canvas, and Sal is the artist. That’s the great thing about pizza – you can create so many wonderful masterpieces!
Cover photo Jane Yun
Leean Vargas is the Highlight Reel newsletter editor at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.