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Food & Drink

And Just Like That, There Are 4 Boludos

Boludo Como and Boludo Uptown opened within a week of each other. Now, chef Facundo DeFraia is setting his sights beyond Minneapolis.

Five years ago, Facundo DeFraia opened a takeout pizza and empanada spot in a hallway-sized storefront at Nicollet and 38th in Minneapolis. In this humble shop, he and his team prepared magnificent diamond-shaped pies and empanadas, using the skills he first honed cooking side-by-side with his grandmother in her Buenos Aires kitchen.

"[It was] so tiny, and how hot it was—it was so crazy," DeFraia says today. "But it was exactly what I was looking for when I decided to open my own shop. The line out the door... it's a good look, for when the pizza is good."

And the pizza really is good. DeFraia knew that it was, and customers agreed. In fact, the only problem was that they struggled to meet the demand: "With the little one we had, on weekends, we couldn't keep up. People seem to realize that pizza is available on Fridays and Saturdays only," he laughs.

Before long, the hopping pizza and empanada spot expanded to downtown Minneapolis, and that first pint-sized Boludo moved to a new, bigger location just across the street from its original Kingfield address. And then in November, DeFraia announced that more Boludos were on the way to Minneapolis, with one headed for a former hardware store in Como and another making its way to the Sotarol space in Uptown.

Within the span of a week this February, the number of Boludo locations doubled. They threw open the doors at Como (1519 Como Ave. SE) on February 12, just in time for the Super Bowl, and the Uptown Boludo (2935 Girard Ave. S.) followed on February 18.

DeFraia gives the credit for the speedy expansion to his "amazing" team. "I'm so so so grateful with having them. Most of the people I have working with me have been there since day one. It's a really good team."

You can now get beer, wine, and liquor at all four Boludo locations, along with the full menu of inventive Argentinian pies and savory, satisfying empanadas. (They've also added CBD drinks.)

And DeFraia isn't done yet: He plans to keep opening new Boludo locations, not only here, but around in the U.S. and maybe, eventually, the world.

"It's not only the food, I want to bring the culture that's so awesome that I love so much, the music, and that kind of vibe," he says. "You're not only having dinner at a restaurant, you're having the whole experience, with the pictures, and the loud music, and the tiny space."

"I always focus on tiny spaces because that's what we have in Buenos Aires, where I'm from," he continues. "Tiny spaces, really good food—you sometimes don't believe it's gonna happen, and you end up eating something awesome."

DeFraia says they'll head for the suburbs next, but after that? "All the states." He'd like to first expand to Florida, where there's a big Argentinian community and a culture that would appreciate this kind of loud, fun pizza shop.

But no matter how far Boludo expands—and any city in America would be lucky to have one—it'll always be a little slice of south Minneapolis that has DeFraia's heart.

"When we decided to exit that little one, I didn't want to go any other place than in that neighborhood," DeFraia says. "Kingfield has been amazing to us, so I was like, 'I need something close by.' I totally asked the universe for it."

"I love working at Boludo," he adds. "I love being there—I love everything about it. This is like my baby, and I'm really happy that we established it here in Minnesota."

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