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Pompieri Pizza

Posted by DID 6 Jan 2014 9 Comments

Quick look at the new pizza joint from Bull City Burger and Brewery’s Seth Gross. Located in the old firehouse just behind Bull City Burgers, next door to Dos Peros, Pompieri Pizza quietly opened their doors last week. Pompieri (firefighters in Italian) has a really similar vibe to its sister restaurant – large open room, order at the counter, lots of communal tables, metal pie plate serving dishes, and a bar with a handful of Bull City Burger’s beers. The pizzas are wood fired and and the mozzarella is made in-house.

We chose a simple salad,  the garden roasted pizza (zucchini and brussels sprouts) and two Bull City brews ($25). The staff was friendly and eager to help. Don’t miss the build your own pie backside of the menu, as we did.


The salad was good – just greens tossed in a nice tomato vinaigrette with two really excellent house made crackers. It was tasty, but a bit small for $5. The pizzas come uncut with a pair of scissors for divvying out custom slices. A nice touch if you have kids maybe, but seems a bit like an unneccesary novelty.

Our pie was very skimpy on the sauce, toppings and cheese – but from the pizzas we spotted on other tables – this seemed to be a fluke. The crust – charred around the edges, soft in the middle, dusted with salt – rivaled Pizzeria Toro.

In addition to beer, Pompieri is also offering a wide selection of cocktails and for dessert, Pompieri has house-made gelatos. 

Despite downtown Durham’s glut of pizza joints, Pompieri Pizza seems to be filling a niche with the young family set. Virtually every table on a Friday night had a toddler or infant happily munching away on pie. 

Anyone know the deal with the row of water tanks?

Pompieri Pizza
102 City Hall Plaza, Durham, NC 27701
(919) 294-4195


  • Div said:

    The water tanks are a hydroponic garden. There’s young basil in there now, maybe tomatoes later, as well?

    Pizzas were really, really good. Toro has a bit of a thicker, chewier crust which I like, but for the cheaper pizza price and affordable alcohol ($6 local pints and $10 glasses of wine, Toro?!), I’d take Pompieri over Toro any day.

    Our only complaint was the salad, which was a small pile of greens for $5. Seemed a bit pricey, or needed to be bigger with more ingredients. And the pizza scissors were a bit silly–holding a piping hot pizza while trying to cut it was annoying, and not fun. But this place is awesome. I look forward to trying the house-cured salamis seasonal toppings!


  • Smooth said:

    I went to Pompieri Pizza late Saturday evening (1/4/14). I ordered the Margherita Pizza and a pint of beer. I really enjoyed both. The pizza flavors were on point and the crust was crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside. It was evident that the ingredients were fresh. The whole basil leaves (that are grown in store) are a nice touch.

    I agree with the initial review that the scissors are not necessary and simply complicate matters. Even with kids it would be more of a safety hazard that a fun activity. I’d prefer it if the pie were simply cut into four equal slices.

    It’s very hard not to compare Pompieri Pizza with Pizzeria Toro. I’d have to give the nod to Toro as far as overall taste and quality (Toro may actually be the best pizza I’ve ever had in America) but Pompieri is more affordable. I suppose they will have to duke it out for downtown Durham pizza supremacy in the coming years!


  • M said:

    I thought PP felt more like a me-too after Bull City Burger with a bit of an identity problem. Sharing beers from BCBB? Fine. But why are there jars of BCBB sauces (e.g. mustard) for sale at the cash register? What does that have to do with pizza? And so I pay at the register and sit down…but waiters come by like you’re at a sitdown restaurant soliciting drink/dessert orders. That’s fine (I don’t have to go wait in line, great)…but I have to handle the bill again? And when/who do I tip? And if I can pay/order from the table, why don’t I get to do that for my first order?

    And then, salads I get, but why are there sausages available as starters on the menu (just a lone sausage)? Who wants that as a lead-in to their pizza? Seems a little heavy.

    Also, I appreciate the gourmetish-slant of the menu, but the topping selection is fairly small, and well, not all that gourmet. And like the article write-up, I found my pizza to be very light on sauce/cheese and the dough underwhelming. Consistency also needs work since the cheese on my fiance’s pizza was barely even melted.

    Oh and last of all, in a place that seems to be family-oriented, if you’re not going to full-on really embrace the firefighter thing (because its not exactly obvious if you don’t go in already knowing about it), you can’t name the restrooms “Firehoses” and “Jaws of Life.” Who wants to have that conversation with their kid over dinner?

    Lastly, knowing that the owner is of Wine Authorities fame, why oh why are the wines served in mason jars and not appropriate stemware? This is like trying to enjoy a fine wine from a solo cup.

    All in all, I felt like I massively overpaid and had wished I had simply went to Pizzeria Toro (because the prices really are NOT that different). I truly wanted to like this place because I absolutely love BCBB…but with so many other great options nearby, at this point, this place is a dud. I’m hoping it turns around, but it would be a long while before I’ll check back.


    JS replies on January 8th, 2014 at 3:51 pm:

    You must not be Italian if sausage at the beginning of a meal doesn’t sound completely normal.


  • Jenna P. said:

    My husband and I were able to eat at Pompieri on opening night and were very impressed by what they had done with the space. The firehoses on the bar? Very cool! We enjoyed our pizza and wish we had ordered another. I don’t believe in nitpicking about things like the scissors. It was fine – I do feel for the dishwasher though! I look forward to seeing the tanks when they have plants and fish in them. What I liked best was actually being able to get a table without waiting, unlike at Pizzeria Toro, and not being a madhouse like BCBB. Although, once people get word of Pompieri it will likely be as crazy as the rest of the restaurants downtown, but it is great to have another dining choice in downtown Durham that serves locally sourced food at a reasonable price.


  • ERD82 said:

    First off — unless it’s opened back since last week (has it?!?), Pizzeria Toro is not really a viable option these days.

    Actually ended up here because my wife and I live in Chatham County and forgot Pizzeria Toro was still closed.

    I love Pizzeria Toro. I had never tried Neapolitan Pizza until I moved to New York and happened to live near the late, great Una Pizza Napoletana which then turned into the even better Motorino. Moving back here I really missed that style of pizza, which is why I so so stoked to go to Toro.

    Toro’s pizza is not just local ingredients/gourmet whatever as much as it is a set of really well thought-out set of flavors. Some of the combinations I’ve eaten at Toro seemed truly bizarre but tasted fantastic (e.x. a white pie topped with bagna cauda and broccoli rabe).

    However, sometimes I just want a really good sausage and mushroom pizza or something like that and Pizzeria Toro can’t do that for me unless it so happens that one of their specials coincides with what I want. That reason is exactly why I really enjoyed Pompieri.

    I really, really hope Toro is back soon and don’t think Pompieri can emulate it/replace it, but I still thought the pizza was solid.

    p.s. pizza scissors are fairly common and seem to just be a preference some folks have.


  • john c. said:

    That salad is a freakin’ joke. But, the pizza is quite good…


  • Ed H said:

    I love Toro, but the pie I had tonight at Pompieri was the best I’ve had in NC. Full stop.

    Had a sausage/caramelized onions/chili oil pie. You could eat the slices folded in half with no problem – Not soggy. Crust had a nice char. And beer with pizza – Nothing better.

    Every time I go home to CT I hit up Modern or Pepes in New Haven because I’m so desperate for great pizza. What I had tonight was every bit as good as the pie I had last time I was in CT. I never thought Durham could be home to a pizza rivalry, but I think once Toro gets back up that’s what we’ll have. Folks will be driving out from Raleigh to start at one and end at the other. I just hope it lasts. I will personally commit to visiting each once a month if that is what is required.


  • tarheelJ said:

    Went last week and loved the food! It is still hard to to pay $13 for essentially a personal pizza. A little pricy…


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