“I’ve been around long enough to know that the more we get criticized, the more on track we are.”
– Tom Monaghan, Founder of Domino’s Pizza
Buenos Aires – I grew up around Domino’s Pizza. Back in the day, Tom Monaghan started out with one small pizza shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, called Dominick’s that he and his brother bought in 1960. By a few years later when my family moved to neighboring Ann Arbor, the name had been changed to Domino’s, had bought out his brother for a VW Beetle, he was up to six shops, had created the concept of pizza delivery, and was on his way to a fast-lane lifestyle that would take him into the world of fancy cars, a baseball team, and jetsetting around the world. About eight years ago, he sold out his share of Domino’s for a reported $1 billion, along with dumping the glitzy life, to concentrate his time on giving away his money to various controversial Catholic projects, most notedly an “all conservative Catholic” town in Florida called Ave Maria.
All that aside, my only reason for bringing it up, is that the world of pizza franchises came onto my radar with an article that my friend Michael reported on from Buenos Aires Herald in which Derrick Foster extolled the virtues of a local pizzeria, Franz y Peppone, Paraguay 5302, in Palermo. Only it’s not so local, in fact, it’s 17-year old franchise started in the city of General Roca, in Patagonia. I’m not sure how big the network is, their website states 12, but the listing of locales doesn’t include the one here in Buenos Aires, so it’s at least one more than that, and the website openly offers franchise deals for those looking to open more venues around the country.
One thing I will say, Franz y Peppone, at least the one here, makes a far better pizza than Domino’s ever did. Let’s face it, for those of us who grew up with the big D, the only real reason for ordering one of the cardboard flavored pies was the promise of getting it free if the driver didn’t get it to you within 30 minutes. Believe you me, people went out of their way to make it hard for the driver to get there on time, especially those of us students on a limited budget. Of course, we only had three other options – Little Caesar’s, which didn’t deliver, only takeout; Bimbo’s, the town’s best pizzeria, downtown, but they didn’t even have take-out, and you had to spend the evening amidst ragtime music and baskets of roasted peanuts and shells on the ground; and the Olympic, which we were convinced cooked it’s pizzas by putting them in the box raw and then pouring a bucket of boiling oil over them.
F & P makes a real, Neapolitan style, thin crust, wood-fired oven pizza that’s worth making the trip out to Palermo for. The crust is crispy on the bottom and just lightly chewy above, as it should be, the sauce is well seasoned, and the toppings are abundant and for the most part, flavorful.
It’s easy to see how the whimsically named Siciliano La Mafia, the “secret” crime society founded in Sicily in the mid-19th Century; the Napolitano La Camorra, the “secret” crime society founded in Naples in the mid-19th Century; and the Calabrese L’Idrageta (which should actually be ‘Ndrangheta), the “secret” crime society founded in Calabria in the mid-19th Century, could be confused. Especially when they’re just the names of calzones that have varying ingredients. Regardless, we wanted the mafia and got the camorra. More regardless, it was delicious. But darn, we’d had a taste for anchovies…
A couple of classic pizzas to try, just to see how they’d do. On the left, a pizza margerita – simple tomato sauce, cheese, and oregano – the whole green olives aren’t a standard in the Italian version, but they were fine, and the pizza was once again delicious. On the right, a bit of a misstep, I must say. And, for two reasons. This is the pizza cuatro estaciones. Now, the whole reason behind a Neapolitan “four seasons” pizza is to highlight the four seasons. So the traditional pie divides the pizza in quadrants, each of which has a topping representing one of those. Here, neither the choice of toppings – ham, artichokes, red peppers, green olives – nor the layout, which was all just mixed together, gave any such indication. Top that off with the artichokes were mushy and flavorless, I’d guess canned in water.
On the whole, as I said, well worth making the trip out there for. fyP supposedly offers a selection of German foods as well, the Palermo branch only has two items on the menu, perhaps the original has more? The quibbles aren’t really a problem, though I’d avoid the artichokes…
[Note: this restaurant has closed.]