Las Vegas Pizza powerhouse Due Forni Pizza & Wine will open this winter in Austin’s historic Littlefield Building at Sixth and Congress. The restaurant and wine bar is the brainchild of University of Texas at Austin alum Alex Taylor and renowned chef Carlos Buscaglia, who made a name for himself as a rising star on the famed Las Vegas strip. The pair founded Due Forni and opened the first location in Las Vegas in 2011, garnering high acclaim from food critics and the community alike.
After achieving success in Las Vegas, operating partner Taylor knew the next expansion for the brand would be Texas. For Taylor, who received his MBA from the McCombs School of Business and then went on to serve as the food and beverage director at such prestigious Las Vegas properties as Wynn Resorts’ Encore and Mandalay Bay, the new location is a homecoming.
"Austin is becoming the most noted culinary city in the country," said Taylor. "I’m proud to be bringing this concept we created to a place we love and consider our adopted hometown."
Due Forni is the only upscale restaurant concept in America to offer authentic Roman and Neapolitan pizzas, utilizing two separate custom Napolitano ovens and imported Italian ingredients to appeal to both types of pizza connoisseurs. Traditional Neapolitan pizzas are baked at 900 degrees for no more than 90 seconds, producing a light, chewy crust with a crisp exterior served browned and bubbly with slightly blistered edges. The Pizza Romana style features a thin and crispy crust with a light, crackly texture that is accomplished from baking at 500 degrees for three minutes. The ability to satisfy a range of preferences is made possible because of the dual bespoke ovens or due forni in Italian, set to the different temperatures.
The innovative dining model extends beyond gourmet pizza, utilizing the pizza ovens and varying cooking techniques in place of other traditional kitchen equipment to turn out entrées such as scallops, rack of lamb, duck, wild salmon, and pastas. The menu is made complete with a prime selection of hot and cold appetizers, charcuterie, cheeses, and inventive desserts. Due Forni utilizes authentic imported ingredients across all dishes, such as bufala mozzarella from Campania, San Marzano tomatoes from the hills surrounding Mount Vesuvius, and blue label Prosciutto San Daniele.
The restaurant features a well-rounded wine selection spanning Italy, California, and other up-and-coming regions from around the world. They also feature the high-tech Enomatic wine dispensers that offer more than 40 limited production wines by the glass. The cocktail program guides guests through the feeling or style of the drink rather than categorizing by spirit, encouraging drinkers to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
Chef Carlos Buscaglia will oversee the culinary operations of both locations. Prior to opening Due Forni as the chef/partner, he made a rapid rise to the role of executive chef at Fiamma inside the MGM Grand. Buscaglia learned traditional Italian recipes and a rustic Italian cooking style from his grandmother and mother in the family’s Italian deli in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before later working under James Beard Award-nominated chef Michael White.
"The expansion of Due Forni to Austin is a natural one," said Buscaglia. "Similar to Las Vegas, Austin is a culinary town; one that celebrates great flavors and a warm and welcoming dining experience."
Sean Zirkle will serve as executive chef of Due Forni Austin and has been with the brand since the opening of the restaurant’s first location in Las Vegas. Aside from working with Buscaglia and White at Fiamma, Zirkle spent six years with famed chef Emeril Lagasse at the MGM Grand and also served on the culinary team of Mandalay Bay.
Due Forni will open this winter at the Littlefield Building in the heart of Austin. The causally sophisticated boîte will feature an atmosphere that is unique and infused by sight, sound, and smell. The soundtrack will be centered on 1960s and 1970s Italian jazz and R&B, while muted spaghetti westerns and Italian crime movies from the same era can be viewed via tastefully placed high-definition monitors. Due Forni will fit in to the Austin food scene like a glove and will add yet another star to Austin's up-and-coming culinary world.