For those who’ve been following along, I’m back on track along the 92 bus route and checking out pizzas after my recent tangential error. First off, I thought I ought to put the route in a little perspective… which also illustrates “from above” why there were such a gap at the beginning – one side of Av. Libertador is all trainyard and park (while the other side is mostly apartment buildings and hotels).
This is the beginning of the route along with where I’ve checked out so far (including this post). If you right click on it and select display in another tab you’ll get the full size version that’s a bit more readable.
I really, really wanted to like the pizza at Sol de Díaz, Av. Coronel Diaz 2475 right off the corner of Pacheco de Melo. It’s a cute place, the owner/manager was charming as could be when he greeted me, the cooks and the staff were cute as hell. I ordered my test standard, the plain mozzarella pizza, and then sat back to wait, reading a book. After awhile I realized I’d been reading quite a bit and checked the time, it had been about 35 minutes since I ordered the pizza. I flagged the waitress down and she zipped back to check on it – while I noted that everyone else was eating already, though no pizzas, mostly sandwiches and toast and coffee, the place is a bit of a diner as well. She came back and said, “he’s about to start it, it’ll be out in a couple of minutes”. What? I pointed out the time, she shrugged and walked away. If I wasn’t doing this research I’d have probably walked at this point. Another near 15 minutes rolled by and finally she came to the table with this pizza.
It looks good. But hmmm, let’s check under the hood. The dough, good flavor, but it’s still raw on the upper surface, and inside it’s gritty. I realize that they probably had no dough ready and made it from scratch and are using partially coarse ground semolina flour which hasn’t had time to hydrate, so what I’ve got is a thin layer of crispy bottom that hasn’t had time to rise and get lovely little air pockets, and then gummy center with sand. Not pleasant. The tomato sauce is good, nice and zesty. The cheese is odd. Really odd. And I don’t quite know what to make of it. I’m used to mozzarella being elastic so that it stretches and is all gooey, but this stretches and holds, and then when it finally breaks, it snaps back like a broken rubber band. And it has a texture not far off – rubbery and hard to chew. And it tastes nothing like mozzarella. I actually have no idea what it was, it almost seemed synthetic, but not a foodstuff unless it was created in a lab. I give up and signal for the check, murmuring something about being late for an appointment now (which I actually was at this point). Bizarre. Fail.
I didn’t hold out high hopes for Pizza Donna, Santa Fé 3202, corner of Col. Díaz, as my next stop. It looks like any of hundreds of standard local cafes with a range of sandwiches and pizzas and milanesas on the BA standard menu. But it purports, right from the name, to specialize in pizzas (though interestingly, the list of them is relegated to about the fourth page in the menu). And unlike the usual listings, this one makes a nod to the Italian origins of the dish, not listing, for example, a plain “Muzzarella” pizza, but rather calling their most basic pie a “Margherita“. Which, it turns out, it’s not, that being classically a fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan and olive oil topped disk, generally, though not required, having a scattering of fresh basil leaves on it, while this is, well, not that. Still, it was surprisingly good – the crust is well made and flavorful, and it was nicely browned, if not quite charred in spots, the tomato sauce tastes fresh and actually includes chunks of tomato rather than being a puree, and there was plenty of it. While there’s too much weeping cheese on the pizza for my tastes at least it was reasonably decent quality, although that, perhaps, was only in contrast to the petro-mozz above. The dried oregano was of the cheap variety, unfortunately, and included as many stems as it did leaves, and there were spots on the pizza that were really salty, so I’m guessing someone tossed pinches of salt here and there (why not just mix it into the sauce so it’s spread out evenly?). The two olives gave lie to the national standard of one per slice, and were pitted. In the end though, despite having to pick a couple of stems out of my teeth, it was at least acceptable.