This delightful pizzeria has an unassuming exterior on Gloucester Green, meaning it is somewhat hiding in plain sight. From outside, Buongiorno E Buonasera looks like a deli you would nip into to pick up some olives, but otherwise might rush past on your way to the coach station. But if you venture inside, you'll discover, as I did, plenty of reasons to make it a destination in its own right.
The atmosphere is highly convivial, thanks to large windows, light-coloured furniture and brimming display cases full of vibrant food ready for the (wood fired?) oven. This effect is slightly undermined by harsh lighting if you go at night, but there is still a buzz about the place which makes having a leisurely meal here an appealing prospect.
Having ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio which was swiftly delivered to our table, my friend and I set about perusing the menu, which centres around a mouthwatering range of 'pinsas' - their signature pizzas made with a specialist dough. The menu says that the dough makes these dishes lower in fat than other restaurants, but I'd say this noble aim is made quite redundant by the lashings of sumptuous toppings on offer. As well as pinsas there's a range of classic Italian starters and a sprinkling of meaty/fishy mains, but we were here for carby indulgence, so duly went for a bruschetta to start and a selection of half-sized pinsas for our mains.
The bruschetta was, like the restaurant itself, deceptive at first sight: on a large serving board it looked a little on the small side and had very few ingredients, but once munching commenced it was packed with flavour, luscious in texture, and ideal for leaving enough space for the next course.
Our pinsas were then promptly fired up before our eyes, providing a nice bit of spectacle. Thanks to the option of ordering them by halves, we were able to sample four varieties between the two of us, all of which were piled high with a generous amount of topping per slice. The Margherita Di Buffala was wonderful, relying of the bold freshness of the simple trio of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil. The Vegana was fascinating in that it had no tomato sauce: in place of the cheese that usually coats a white pizza, the chefs had ingeniously used artichoke cream, which provided an interesting contrast with the spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. The Caponata was beautiful: silky, juicy ratatouille complementing the crispy pizza base to form what must surely be in the running for the best vegan pizza in town. The veggie and vegan options were so good that the only meaty offering we tried, the Tartuffo (Italian sausage, black truffle sauce, porcini mushrooms and mozzarella), seemed almost boring by comparison. However, there were a number of other convincing carnivorous offerings on the menu, one of the many reasons I am already planning my next visit.
After all that, it will come as no surprise that, with great regret, we skipped dessert. Nevertheless we left B&B as converts to their cause, and only £40 lighter in wallet, having enjoyed two courses and half a bottle of wine each. The quality of our experience seemed criminally unmatched by sparse attendance in the restaurant, especially given it was a Saturday night, so I would urge any Oxford-based fans of Italian cuisine to add it to your list without delay. Whether you're grabbing a panini to take back to the office or planning a leisurely lunch or dinner, you won't be disappointed.