Braulio Bunay

 Braulio Bunay (Photo courtesy Instagram)

VENICE - Braulio Bunay may be new to Venice, but he’s already known in the New York culinary scene and recognized by Guinness World Records for his culinary flair.

While chef at Industry Kitchen in Manhattan, he made the most expensive pizza commercially available. Loaded with squid ink dough, Stilton cheese, French foie gras and truffles, caviar, and 24K gold leaves, the indulgent pie cost $2,700.

Bunay is continuing the 24K gold pizza at his new Venice restaurant, Brabu, but the rest of the menu is regularly priced modern American cuisine with starters, salads, wood oven pizzas, pasta and grilled dishes.

“The menu mixes Italy and France with the United States,” said Bunay, 43, adding his Ecuadorean roots also influence some of Brabu’s seasoning and sauces.

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The restaurant has been open for a few weeks despite nearby boardwalk construction and held a grand opening on October 14th. At 3015 Ocean Front Walk around the corner from The Pier House, Brabu can seat 70 in its 2,500 square-foot space.

“This location is beautiful,” said Bunay of Brabu’s spot at the end of Washington Boulevard. “You can see the beach. It’s a spectacular location just a few steps from the beach.”

Braulio and his wife, Nelly, moved to Marina Del Rey in December so they could open their own restaurant.

“I always had a passion for cooking, even since I was a kid,” said Bunay. “My mom made food for the family and to sell on the street corner.”

Looking to get started in the culinary arts, Bunay moved to New York City 24 years ago.

“I started working in the industry like any immigrant who comes to the United States, washing dishes and working the prep station.”

Bunay credits Chef Patrick Nuti of LAVO NYC for being his mentor and introducing him to pizza-making.

“He taught me everything—the combination of food, flavor and textures, even finances.”

Visiting California a few years ago, Bunay said he liked the friendly people enjoying outdoor activities.  

“I fell in love with the beach,” he said. “I fell in love with Venice.”

“It’s been a dream come true living here,” said Nelly. “We’re from Ecuador. We’re from the coast. So, this is where we wanted to be.”

Now that they have their own restaurant, Bunay and Nelly want to give back by starting a scholarship fund for people wanting to attend culinary school.

“When it comes to my experience, I needed help to grow,” Bunay said. “Thank god for my mentor—without him, I wouldn’t be here. No one would be anywhere without help. So, I want to help anyone who loves food.”

Brabu also plans to donate 10 percent of every 24K pizza sold, which at $3,000 apiece would amount to $300, toward hunger and homeless causes.

“I don’t want anybody to go to sleep without eating,” Bunay said, “so that’s our mission.”

Oh, and if you want to try the 24K gold pizza, please order 48 hours in advance. Gold standards take time.

Born in Kentucky, Doug Rapp now calls 90291 home. Before joining the Venice Current, his writing appeared in outlets throughout the Midwest. He is also a script analyst for writing competitions in L.A. and New York City.