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Four Pies

Tags: pizza

Muky, Av. Maipú 1499, Vicente Lopez. It was our usual Sunday outing, and we thought we’d head up to the northern suburbs. It’s also the week that includes International Beer & Pizza Day, so, minds focused on pizza. Three places have been highly recommended by more than one person to me in Vicente Lopez, and we headed to the top recommendation, Victor, which turned out to have its windows papered over and a work crew busy tearing it apart. A few block walk to DaVinci revealed that they only open at night, and a couple of blocks further and Home turned out to be closed, for no apparent reason, during posted hours of being open.

In our walks, we’d passed a couple of other open pizzerias – not many things are open in the area at all on Sundays. We entered Nueva Esquina, a little hole in the wall pizza joint. Vaguely attentive service did little to win our confidence but we ordered, and then waited, and waited, and waited. When it hit 40 minutes, we asked, and were assured it was just about to come out of the oven. Another ten minutes and nothing, and we were informed that the pizza oven wasn’t working right, so the pizza was in there, but not really cooking – just kind of drying out. We walked. And, ended up at this place, Muky, where we greeted, seated, and we ordered, and in very short order had pizza.

Unfortunately, not great pizza. The crust was the best part – it was well browned, well cooked, nice and crunchy on the edges and bottom, and had some flavor. But that’s kind of where it ended. The fugazzeta half was mounded with oil slick laden mozzarella and topped with as big a mound of barely warmed raw onions. The bacon and arugula half, amazingly, had no flavor. I don’t know where one finds bacon that has no flavor, but they managed. All in all, a pass, especially because when you add a 96 peso cubierto charge to a 330 peso pizza, it makes it a 426 peso pizza, which would barely be acceptable if it was a good one.

I don’t know why, but I started thinking, for this venture, about strange pizzas. Surely there had to be places out there putting odd toppings and such on them. I didn’t want a bad pizza, but I wanted something creative and different. A La Nación article entitled Las pizzas mas raras en Buenos Aires, or, the strangest pizzas in Buenos Aires, led me to a local neighborhood joint I’ve never paid much attention to, Il Migliore, Charcas 2802, Recoleta. Here, I was assured, I would find what amounted to a giant open-faced steak and cheese empanada – handcut steak, mozzarella, onions and tomato sauce. Somehow, I missed that it also included barbecue sauce.

Now, this wasn’t handcut steak, it was more like meatballs – or chopped steak – with mozzarella, green and white onions, no evidence of tomato sauce, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce over it. Thankfully, the BBQ wasn’t very sweet or this would have been a disaster. As it was, it was actually good, just odd. I’d far prefer it to be with a ladle of tomato sauce and maybe some grated parmesan over the top – then it would be kind of like a meatball parmesan sandwich, on quite good pizza dough. A small pizza runs 255 pesos, but it’s a pretty big small pizza, two people could share it. A 15 peso cubierto brings it up to 270 pesos.

The big day arrived, the holiday itself. I’d put the word out with the Roving Ravenous Horde, and the idea of a pizza outing met with approval. For years, I’ve been hearing about this place that offers “delivery only” empanadas that are reputed to be the best around. And, they also supposedly have really good pizzas. So I contacted La Fachada, Araóz 1283, Palermo, because I knew that they had some level of dining area. Could they handle us? Turns out that at lunch they really are delivery only, they only open the dining room and the rooftop terrace, at night. But, with 8-10 of us wanting to sample, the offered to open up for lunch just for us. Are we cool or what?

In the end, 9 of us arrived, and the owners took amazingly good care of us. We had to try the much touted empanadas, both the traditional style and the canastitas, little baskets, sort of open empanadas. And you know what? These are amazing. Without even doing a side by side up against my long time favorites of La Cupertina, La Querencia, El Mazacote… these blow them away. Easily the best empanadas I’ve had in Argentina. All the empanadas are 39 pesos apiece, basically a dollar.

Their pizzas are enormous – roughly 1.5 times the size of a standard grande pizza here. They also offer a chica, a small pizza, that we were assured could feed 2-3 people. We didn’t quite finish these two pies with nine of us. First off, the crust is spectacular – it’s a very light, airy crust, and cooked to a perfect crunchiness on the bottom, and even though it’s a media masa, a medium thick pan pizza, it was cooked all the way through. The calabresa was topped with spicy sausage reminiscent of a good pepperoni, and tomatoes and peppers, and was gobbled up faster than we could say calabresa. The chamipñones pizza was easily the best mushroom pizza I’ve had in BA, packed with fresh, sliced mushrooms, green onions, and cherry tomatoes.

No cubierto charge, and for pizzas far bigger, and far better, than most of the Argentine style pies I’ve had here, these ran, respectively, 480 and 410 pesos. A bargain for quality and quantity. This place zooms to the top of my list under both Argentine pizzas and empanadas. And, they deliver! They have four other locations in and around the city, though this is the only one with a dining room.

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