A Fainazzeta Line in the Sand

2017.May.27 Saturday · 1 comment

in Restaurants

A short-lived quest, I think this will likely be the only post (mostly because it’s just not something I particularly want to eat a lot of). I’d discovered the fainazzeta, a cheese and onion topped slab of fainá, or chickpea flatbread, at El Mazacote on a recent visit. I asked for suggestions of “the best place to” from my readers, and received half a dozen suggestions. Interestingly, when laid out on the map, they form a more or less straight line across a small section of the city. And, while I have, here and there, spotted fainazzeta on pizzeria menus, it isn’t common. I wonder what it is that created this pattern, if it is one. More likely it’s just the pattern of the eating habits of the readers who happened to respond. In the end, I only review four of the new six recommendations, as you’ll see.


(1) La Reliquia, México 915, San Telmo – This one also gets high recommendations (4-stars) on Yelp for both the fainazzeta and the fugazzeta rellena. Mostly a takeout place, there’s one table for two and a small counter where you can stand and eat. It’s… okay. I found the faina base a bit oily, albeit well cooked and browned on the edges. The cheese was probably the biggest issue though, it just wasn’t that high quality of a mozzarella, and the onions were barely warmed, it was almost like they’d been added after, or only partway through the cooking of the slice. Good seasoning. Perhaps telling that when I told the woman at the counter that I was on the search for the best fainazetta in the city and someone had recommended theirs, her response was, “seriously? you’re kidding, right? fine, we’ll make one for you.” Inexpensive option at 24 pesos.


(2) El Mazacote, Chile 1400, Monserrat – Although I’ve already reviewed this one, the fainazzeta that started it all, I thought I’d include it here so they’re all together. Here’s what I said about it:

But the one that gets the highest raves from El Mazacote’s supporters is its fainazzeta, an uncommon, though certainly not unknown offering at local pizzerias. Fainá is a chickpea bread that I’ve mentioned many a time before, often served as either a side or a topping to regular pizza. It’s basically chickpea flour, grated cheese, and water – and usually the only thing in local pizzerias that those who are going gluten-free can eat. But it’s rarely topped with anything, and often served just room temperature. Here, it’s slathered with tomato sauce, then a layer of mozzarella, a scattering of onions, a good grating of parmesan, and a dusting of oregano, and served piping hot. It is, indeed, a tasty bite, and puts me in mind of a possible quest – after all, I’ve said I wanted to go after something Argentine for my next quest.


(3) Jaimito, Virrey Liniers 709, Almagro – This one, like El Mazacote, gets rave reviews across the board – in addition to the personal recommendation it gets high marks on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, and GuiaOleo. One reviewer even talks about it looking like it’s going to be “just another typical local pizzeria” and being surprised at how good the pizza is (and the pizzas, which we didn’t try, do look great). Jaimito’s offers up two versions – the only difference being a generous topping of ham on the one towards the back (a solid four slices of ham stacked atop each other under the cheese). I’d be hard pressed to pick whether I like this one or El Mazacote more – they’re both delicious – both with thinner fainá crusts, well browned, and crispy bits of cheese along the edges. I do like the ham addition, it adds another dimension to the slice. Reasonably priced, at, respectively, 32 and 35 pesos.

(4) Los Salteños, Carlos Calvo 4205, Almagro – So why no photo? Because according to the folk at this place not only do they not have a fainazzeta on the menu, but never have. The guy did over to try to throw one together for me, and we considered it, but decided to move on down the line. My confidant who recommended it had no response. There are several pizzerias in the city called Los Salteños, and perhaps one of them offers it, but this was the specific address given me as the one to go to.

(5) K52, Av. Pedro Goyena 52, Caballito – And, why is there no picture for this recommended fainazzeta? Because there is no fainazzeta here. In fact, there’s no real here, here. Despite a rave recommendation from a reader who lives in the area and a single decent recommendation on Kekanto (from 2012), the building was apparently torn down in late 2015. There’s just a big hole in the ground. The followup conversation went something like: “When’s the last time you went there?” “Oh, we go there a lot, maybe a few weeks ago.” “The building was torn down in late 2015.” “No, I don’t think it’s been that long since we went. Maybe…”.


(6) El Rinconcito, Av. Pedro Goyena 400, Caballito – Good writeups on GuiaOleo, though more for the fugazzeta rellena than the fainazzeta, and even my confidant who recommended it said he preferred that. It’s also, at least as of this writing, the #1 pizzeria listed on LaMejorPizzeria.com (I think for Caballito, though the site is weirdly organized and I’m not sure). Pretty bland and uninteresting. The fainá was unseasoned and almost a little watery – like it just hadn’t quite been cooked through, though it was solid. That might be because it was easily the thickest fainá I’ve encountered anywhere. The cheese was barely melted, the onions barely warm, and little seasoning. Meh, even at a cheap 24 pesos.


(7) La Posta de Achával, Av. Directorio 1497, Caballito – If all that mattered were appearance and aroma, this one would win the battle hands down. It just looks inviting, and with the big petals of onions festooning the top, beautifully caramelized, the scents wafting off the plate had our mouths watering. And, indeed, there’s much to like here. More like the more common fugazzeta, the fainá base here serves more or less as a serving plate for a mound of gooey, elastic mozzarella, and good quality stuff too. The onions are as tasty as they smell and look. There’s a decent swath of good tomato sauce underneath, and the jamón version offers up not thin lunchmeat slices of the stuff, but thick, 1/4″ carved collops of tasty cooked ham. There are, however, two spots where this version falls short of my two favorites above (El Mazacote and Jaimito) – the fainá is a thick, blond slice of under-cooked chickpea dough – it also seems as if they used just chickpea flour and water, no parmesan or other cheese in the dough; and, there’s little seasoning on the slice as a whole – that little bit of sprinkled oregano you can see in the mid-front is pretty much it. Overall it’s just missing that bit of sazón that you’d get from parmesan (note, also, this is the only slice that has none coating the top), salt, and oregano.


Edit: Turns out I’d actually tried a fainazzeta once before, back about four years ago, at Pizza Show, and was, to say the least, not impressed.


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