Square Box, Round Food, Triangular Pieces

2017.Aug.09 Wednesday · 0 comments

in Restaurants

Heavy on the pizza posting, I know. Helps to have friends who love pizza as much as I do and have the time to get out and share in the adventure!

 

Pizza alla Pala, Av. Pueyrredón 1293, Recoleta – Mostly a takeout space, with a few counter seats for those who want to have a quick bite. More or less rectangular pizzas, ostensibly, I suppose, the size and shape of the pala, or wooden pizza board that they’re formed on before being thrust into the deck ovens. All pizzas available whole (140 plain or 160 with toppings), or a quarter of a pie (45 plain, 55 with toppings). Pricing’s not bad, since a quarter of one of these is probably near equal to two slices off a typical large pie in other places, where they might run anywhere from 25-40 pesos per slice. And, it’s pretty good pizza. Not wow, but a nicely done, well browned crust, and good quality toppings, including a relatively generous amount of good tomato sauce. There are also condiments available to dress up your pizza that go beyond the usual suspects offered here – salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili flakes, oregano, a house blend of seasonings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Not a bad spot for a snack!


 

De Rosa, Lafinúr 3275, Palermo – Taking over the space vacated by the Palermo outpost of Malvón, this is the third pizzeria to open with the involvement of an old friend of mine from NYC, Maurizio de Rosa, the other two being Partenope and San Paolo. Here, he sticks with his Neapolitan style base, in terms of the dough (excellent dough, by the way – he’s found a source of organic, unbleached flour, milled on site just outside the city – I’ve actually made contact with them and plan to visit the mill and start using the flour for our breads and pastries as well, it’s that good), and method of cooking, but the focus is on toppings that are more Argentine than Italian, while eschewing the local tendency to thick dough and mounds of cheap mozzarella.

On a recent afternoon we stopped in and tried a “Tierra”, or “Land” (they also have a “Mar” for a seafood pizza), topped with fresh pine mushrooms, pancetta, and raw onions. Argentines have a thing for raw rather than cooked onions on their pizzas – something Maurizio told me he still hasn’t come to enjoy. I have to admit that while I’ve come to accept them, I still prefer them cooked. The pizza was delicious! 215 pesos for the “small”, six piece pizza. De Grott artesanal beers on tap (49 pesos), and Patagonia beers by the bottle.


 

1893, Av. Scalabrini Ortiz 701, Villa Crespo – I gave this place a cursory review about eight years ago. I found that while it wasn’t bad, there wasn’t anything that really grabbed me. A very limited selection of pizzas, basically plain cheese, cheese and ham, goat cheese, and onion, and really nothing else. It’s a la parrilla style, or grilled, which I do like because of the paper thin crust, and they do it well, I just wanted some more creativity. Not long ago, I read an article about the place and they were talking to the chef, who had revamped the menu to include a wide selection of really creative sounding pizzas. So, it went back on the list.

Now, here’s the thing. The menu still just lists the basic pizzas. But, if you’re in the know, which I guess you now are, you can ask for the day’s special pizzas. Apparently they change nearly daily, and there are generally anywhere from 2-4 of them. But you have to ask. So, on my visit they had a trio, two of which sounded particularly interesting. This one, absolutely killer, was fresh portobellos, grilled pancetta, olives, garlic, and onions. I’d happily eat that anytime, anywhere. Oh, all pizzas are available whole, half, or quarter (I gather they pre-grill the bases, then just cut whichever sized portion you want, add the toppings, and stick it under the broiler.

This one seems a bit shy of a quarter, but since it wasn’t a winner in my book, in the end, I didn’t mind. Cited as a brie, onion, almond, and walnut pizza, it turned out the onions were caramelized into a very sweet jam, and there were no almonds, but rather raisins. All in all, just too sweet for my tastes for a pizza. Quarter pizzas of the specialty ones were 87.50 pesos, which is a tad more than the standard pizzas on the regular menu, but not a huge amount more (I think they all ran around 65-75), and half and whole pizzas are noticeably less on a per portion basis. The only beers the place offers are Imperial and Warsteiner in bottle. Ah well. Kudos for the new creativity (even the one I wasn’t fond of).


 

Pirilo, Defensa 821, San Telmo – Okay, this one is way past due, and way past my last visit (five years ago). But somehow or other I never wrote it up, and I have no idea why – it came to mind in my last pizza post about La Boca. This place is an “experience”. Officially, it’s open from 2-11pm, every day but Monday, but that’s complete nonsense as best I can tell. Somewhere around noon, people start kind of casually gathering near to it. It’s a teeny little space, if you put tables in there you might fit a table for four and a table for two. But it’s all standing room only.

Somewhere around 12:30, or 1:00, or maybe 1:30, someone will come out through the partially open metal security gate, and quickly raise it up. By that time, there will be enough people gathered around to quickly fill the space. There’s not much order to it all, unlike the usual porteño, happy to wait in line process, here, you just jam your way to the counter, order, and pay, and then fight your way to pick up what you ordered, find a place to stand, inside or out, and eat. It’s like being in a subway train at rush hour, with food.

And, generally, within a very short time, usually about an hour to an hour and a half, they’re sold out of everything they’ve made, and they don’t make more. Gradually, everyone drifts out the door, and the gate comes down. I gather the experience is repeated in the evening, though I’ve never headed there then.

The choices are few. Mozzarella. Anchovy (without cheese). Ham and Pepper (with cheese). FugazzaFugazza con quesoFainá. That’s it. By the slice to eat there, or a whole pie, small or large, to go. For the pizza by “the slice”, they make them in huge, 60cm molds, and then cut pieces in more or less random shapes of more or less the same size and served up on a minuscule paper napkin.

Is it worth it? No. Not really. It’s perfectly acceptable pizza, and even a decent fainá (chickpea and cheese “bread” that’s often used as a second dough topping to pizza here). And it’s among the better in San Telmo, but honestly, that’s not hard to do. As I said, it’s an experience, and if you want to do something truly authentically Argentine for pizza, it’s worth a visit, once. The last time I went was five years ago, and at that point, slices were between 3.50 and 5 pesos, and whole pies were 20-24 or 40-48 pesos, small or large. An online photo from this last December, which was the most recent I spotted, has slices ranging from 14-22 pesos, small pies from 85-125, and large from 175-235.


 

Atilano, Iberá 3201, Nuñez – I don’t recall who recommended this one, but it got on the list as one of the “must visits” in Nuñez.

At lunch, mostly men, mostly older, mostly hanging out for long periods of time, well after they’ve finished eating. The decor is strongly Peronist, with photos of the Perons, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and more. You can’t really see it with this photo, but the clock on the wall, instead of numbers, has the letters of “EVITA PERON” running down the two sides, covering 7-11 and 1-5.

The menu is fairly long, with a full page of sandwiches, another of salads, and nearly two pages of different pizzas. We ordered a half and half with mozzarella, smoked bacon, and basil (all good, all plentiful) on one side and a pizzaiola for the other – which is usually, at least from what I’ve seen, no cheese, lots of tomato sauce, and plenty of garlic and chili. This had a modicum of sauce (decent sauce too, they should use more of it), topped with slices of tomato that were a bit under-ripe. Kind of missed the real hit of garlic and chili that I’ve seen elsewhere on this style pie. The dough, not so much. It has an okay flavor, but it clearly hadn’t been allowed to rise and develop at all, and so was kind of dense, thin, and chewy, almost like it had been compressed. Quite reasonably priced – a medium sized pie for 135 pesos – under $8, even with the half-and-half split.

Overall, perhaps better than average, but not great. If I was in the area, I might try it again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make the trip.

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