Stop, shadow of my elusive beloved
Image of enchantment that I most desire
Beautiful illusion for whom I happily die
Sweet fiction for whom I painfully live.
– Juana Inés de la Cruz de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana, nun, scholar, poet
Buenos Aires – It takes a certain level of chutzpah to make the claim to be the most beloved, of anything. And while it’s likely that the name of the place, La Más Querida, Echeverría 1618 in Belgrano (right behind the Belgrano C train station), has something to do with, perhaps, a family member, I can see how one could apply it to the place itself. It’s not that the pizza a la parrilla was the best we’ve ever had, it wasn’t – it was quite good – it was more the place itself. There was something about it from the moment we walked in – it’s a hole in the wall, a bit dingy, the floors have a little tackiness that your shoes stick to as you walk through the room, the pizza oven looks as if it’s been around since the invention of fire and is due to collapse at any moment. Yet, every table is filled, and in short order with people waiting, on a night when every other restaurant on the block is near empty in response to the flu pandemic panic.
And, everyone’s enjoying themselves. Immensely. Breaking away from the usual “4, 6, or 8” piece sizes that don’t mean anything until you know what size the pieces themselves are, there are two options – half a pizza or a whole pizza – and there are boards piled up on the countertop in those two sizes – you can see immediately how much you’re going to get. We opted for a full pizza for the two of us, and we did manage to get through 83% of it. Good, smoky crust from the wood burning fire. Nicely flavored tomato sauce with plenty of herbs. Generous toppings – and interesting ones too – some of the most interesting combinations I’ve seen in any pizza place in Buenos Aires (we went with half chili con carne and half arugula with crispy bacon), and, to boot – a list of all the ingredients available for a “build your own combo” pizza – near unheard of in this town where you’re expected to order your pizza in one of the pre-arranged combinations and like it. Punto. Oh, and a couple of ramekins of different sauces to top your pizza – unusual – one a simple fresh tomato and onion dice, another a smoking hot sauce, and, unfortunately, they were out of their “Andean” sauce – medium spicy with huacatay herb.
A selection of beers and a few wines round out the experience – something other than Quilmes available just adds to the experience. The decor, I’d say non-existent, though that’s not true, it’s decorated like a couple of people sat down to practice basic arts and crafts and stuck everything they made, good or bad, up somewhere in the narrow room. Oh yeah, and inexpensive – with a full sized pizza, a few beers and a bottle of water we still got away for 60 pesos, tip included.