New York had its Ray’s Pizza wars. Broward now has a Bufarella brouhaha. Bufarella Genuine Italian Gourmet is a small cheese and sandwich shop that opened in August 2018 in Oakland Park. Bufarella La Pizza Di Napoli is an 86-seat pizzeria restaurant that opened this week in Fort Lauderdale.
The stores, about 3 miles apart, have different owners and are not affiliated. Both specialize in soft, creamy mozzarella cheeses made in house daily from curds shipped from Italy.
Bufarella, the sandwich market, is not happy about Bufarella, the pizza restaurant, opening nearby with a similar name.
“It’s confusing,” says Franco Godina, Bufarella Genuine Italian Gourmet co-founder and a veteran restaurateur.
“We’re completely different,” says Riccardo Romano, co-founder of Bufarella La Pizza Di Napoli. “We’re a restaurant. They’re a small shop. There’s enough room for both of us.”
Attorneys for the businesses communicated last year when Bufarella the market learned of Bufarella the pizzeria’s name. Godina says he found out when a sign maker who did work for both remarked on the similarities in names and logos. Bufarella the market wants the pizzeria to change its name.
But Bufarella La Pizza Di Napoli, at 5975 N. Federal Highway, maintains it has a right to use the name, which is named after buffalo mozzarella.
The restaurant specializes in Neapolitan-style pizzas made with fresh buffalo mozzarella and cooked in a wood-burning oven. It also offers salads, calzones, pastas and desserts.
The basic Bufarella pie ($18), with cheese, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil, features puffy, chewy dough around the edges singed to blackness in spots. Neapolitan pizza comes out wet and sloppy in the center, which is why it is served with a fork and knife.
The restaurant also has a gimmick on the menu: a $250 pizza called the “24K” made with buffalo mozzarella, gold leaf and Beluga caviar. Nobody has ordered it yet, Romano says, and it was created as a promotional tie-in with a nearby Ferrari dealership.
“It’s a luxury pizza,” says the Italian-born Romano, who previously ran a cheese shop in North Miami. “I can tell you I prefer the normal pizza.”
Both businesses make cheese in house daily. Both sell it for takeaway in small containers from display cases. Both stores feature Italian water buffalo and cows in their logos and decor.
Bufarella the market applied for a federal trademark in April 2018 but state records indicate the business never registered the Bufarella name with Florida. The federal trademark is pending. Its corporate entity is known as 4F Italia LLC.
Bufarella the pizzeria officially incorporated in Florida in March 2018 as Bufarella LLC. Records indicate the business applied for a federal trademark in July 2018, which is pending.
Lawyers are being consulted on both sides and options are being weighed. Romano says he does not want to change the pizzeria’s name because it has already done extensive branding and marketing. For now, Godina has posted this sign on the door of Bufarella the market, located at 1682 E. Oakland Park Blvd.: “We are the one and only original Bufarella Genuine Italian Gourmet.”
Some restaurants with similar names accept confusion, such as Vietnamese restaurants Pho 78 in Pembroke Pines and Pho 79, a chain with multiple South Florida locations. La Union Mexican Bakery in Coral Springs and La Union, a Salvadoran restaurant in Margate, coexist.
But sometimes court fights erupt.
Henry’s Sandwich Station in Fort Lauderdale originally called itself Proper Sandwich but changed names weeks before opening when Proper Sausages of Miami Shores filed a federal trademark infringement suit.
Whether the Bufarella beef can be settled without a costly legal battle remains to be seen.
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