Dunedin has always had more than its share of charming places to eat. And now it has a couple more, both practicing the ancient alchemy of pizzacraft. • Tina Marie and Javier Avila moved their Casa Tina next door a couple of years ago, transforming the original location into a wine bar/tapas concept called Pan Y Vino that never quite gelled. More recently, in addition to opening a third concept called Cabana Café, kitty-corner from the other two, they've reconfigured Pan Y Vino as a brick-oven pizza cafe. • Not far away, young Bayshore Pizza has been making waves, most recently by winning a "Best Pizza in Dunedin Contest" at the House of Beer. Pizza chef-owner Erik Johanson is justifiably proud of his "Wise Guy Pie," a garlicky white number topped with wedges of soft-cooked Roma tomato.
Styles couldn't be much different at these two newcomers, but both have much to recommend. Pan Y Vino has really found its groove, a brick wall on the dining room's right covered in mirrors that reflect the golden flicker from the maw of the stylish pizza oven. That oven completes the space somehow, adding warmth and hipness, a sweet duet that is reinforced by a tasty Rat Pack soundtrack. White tablecloths topped by butcher paper lend a casual brasserie feel, and young servers are well versed in the fair-priced and far-ranging short wine list.
Pizzas could be characterized as froufrou. Not in a bad way, but with toppings that are nuanced and sophisticated. Roasted pistachio and rosemary ($14.50; hat tip to Wood Fired Pizza in Tampa, the first I know of locally to beguile with this combo), chorizo and sharp cheddar ($14) and pesto with wild mushrooms ($13.50) all come on a crust that is flaky and tender, a fairly close cousin of pie dough. The pizza master here likes things cooked dark, the cheese a golden mantle, the crust edge buttery and splintery.
To go with your pie (each a big one-person or small two-person), grab an order of mixed olives and oily, skinless Marcona almonds (each $4), and maybe a green salad with apple and Gorgonzola ($8) tossed in a lush honeyed vinaigrette. The aims at this new Pan Y Vino incarnation are vegetarian-friendly, with a commitment to organics whenever possible — a charming complement to Casa Tina next door.
Bayshore Pizza, opened in January, has a little Rat Pack playlist of its own: Dean Martin crooning That's Amore, but a maddeningly few additional songs so that over a meal you'll hear the same numbers two or three times. No matter. The pizza is good enough to distract. This is an order-at-the-counter (or delivery within 5 miles) place, with plastic utensils and the kind of comfy, uncomplicated decor that gets you hankering for a pitcher of Mich Ultra ($7.50) and a large pie of pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, onion and peppers ($16.95), the whole thing rendered daredevilish with a cat's cradle of molten mozzarella tendrils.
The crust is puffy-edged and tooth-resistant without being tough. Indeed, the award-winning Wise Guy (medium $12.95, large $14.95) is a nice pie, but I also enjoyed a build-your-own (same prices as above) with mushroom, sweet onion, red bell peppers and fresh spinach (although raw spinach frizzles on a pie; it would stay juicier very quickly sauteed). The rest of the menu spans other fine options for dough, cheese and accoutrements: Both calzones ($5.95, $8.95) and stromboli ($6.95, $8.95) are solid, and straight-up fried dough can go either savory with marinara and Parmesan or sweet with a flurry of powdered sugar (both $3.99).
Despite stylistic differences, both Pan Y Vino and Bayshore are independently owned, affordable and inviting, adding two more sleek feathers to Dunedin's already bedecked cap.
Laura Reiley can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2293. Read her blog at tampabay.com/blogs/dining.