Our latest Quick Bites brings us to the East Village for a lot more than pizza.

THE VIBE
It will surprise no one paying attention to The Way We Eat Now that one of the most exciting and ambitious new restaurants to open this year is an East Village pizza place, run by two guys whose last kitchen was at a coffee shop on St. Marks. And before that, where the driven and remarkably talented duo David Gulino and Justin Slojkowski behind Bruno first met? A pizza joint in Bushwick named Roberta's.

By the way, if you're tired of this NYC restaurant narrative, of terrific chefs working in fried chicken/taco/pastrami/noodle/pizza places, I'm sorry, but it doesn't look like this story is anywhere near its end. Which, if it means we get to eat food as good as what's coming from behind the counter at Bruno, is nothing but excellent news.

Like many of these sorts of restaurants, Bruno is small and narrow, with a long bar running down one side, a row of tables lining the other, room for a single lane of traffic between them. The slabs-of-reclaimed-wood stools and chairs are space efficient, albeit only tolerably comfortable. The Ethan Armen wheatpaste and ENES tag hanging in the back wall is on a piece of plywood rescued from the shed out front during construction. The lighting is brighter than in most places you'll dine, and the mood is lively and festive without getting shouty.

The space was designed by co-founder Demian Repucci, who will also likely take a turn serving you something if you're sitting at the bar. And Slojkowski or Gulino might deliver a dish or two to you as well, to tell you a little bit about what's going on, and maybe get you excited about the chef's counter tasting menu they will be cooking up after things get a little more settled. Bruno is an interactive sort of restaurant, and clearly all of the people working here, including the principals, really care about what they're doing.

THE BITES
Bruno Pizza is about a lot more than just pizza, but since almost half the menu is dedicated to different sorts of Neapolitan-style pies, and since apparently Gulino and Slojkowski spent months working on the crust recipe, using 00 flour from whole wheat berries ground in their own freaking mill... well, it better be good.

And it is. Bruno pizza is very good, with a bit more crackle in the crust than at some places, but there's plenty of dense chew going on here as well. The toppings are also well balanced, at least on the two pies I've tried so far. The Nduja is covered in a bright tomato sauce and creamy Willoughby cheese, then finished with bits of cauliflower, sorrel leaves, and crumbles of pork whose tiny footprints belie their spicy bite. And I read somewhere that if you ask for the "special pie of the night" Gulino might make up something for you on the spot. He did, and it was dope, a super cheesy beauty with fiery chilies, sweet corn, and some funky sort of sausage.

So you'll want to get at least one or two of the pies with your dinner, but it's the top part of the menu—the salads and seafood-based appetizers—that elevate Bruno into a truly thrilling restaurant. My favorite so far is the Watermelon salad, with its caramelized okra, an intense poblano sauce, bitter greens, and translucent ribbons of lardo that tie the dish together. But the tender Local Squid sitting in cups of charred onion with dried chili and wild sumac is a close second.

Cucumber provides the foundation of another salad winner, tossed with succulents and herbs, strips of melon, and globs of a buttermilk-tapioca concoction. And if the Beets are calling to you, definitely go ahead and order with authority. Not only is this the prettiest plate on the menu—look at those flowers!—it is also delicious, a refreshing mix of that sweet root vegetable (often pummeled by over-pickling or -dressing, the beets at Bruno are encouraged to be who they are) with plums, some sunflower seeds for crunch, and a bee-pollen based sauce.

Obviously these guys like to experiment, which is good news for those of us who plan on making one of the stools at the counter a regular pre-movie perch (I'm also excited see what the team comes up with for the winter menu), but when you throw a lot of stuff onto every plate, there's bound to be a miss or two. The only pasta I've tried, the Cavatappi, was also the only disappointment so far, the heavy twirls of noodle sinking under smoked bone marrow, clams, collard greens, and bacon, proving for the thousandth time that, yes, you can have too much of too many good things.

And the single best dish I've eaten at Bruno isn't on the menu yet (though Repucci told me last week that they might roll it out on Tuesday, aka tonight), a huge, incredible disc of fermented mozzarella sitting in a puddle of oil next to a tower of thick dark rye smeared with bone marrow butter. A ton of love goes into this monster—the bread itself has been longtime project of one of the Bruno kitchen crew, Phil Marokus, and it takes like three days just to get the dough ready for baking—and they absolutely nailed it. A must order.

THE VERDICT
Great stuff all around, welcoming and satisfying for East Village locals and well worth the trip for everyone else. And these guys aren't going to sit still either. Expect to hear more and more from Bruno Pizza for a long time to come.

NOTE: There is NO TIPPING at Bruno; menu prices include the cost of service.

Bruno Pizza is located at 204 East 13th Street, just east of Third Avenue. (212-598-3080; brunopizzanyc.com)