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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Las Complejidades de la Pizza: Pizzeria Güerrin - Corrientes 1368, Microcentro / An anonymous bar - Plaza Serrano, Palermo

It seems my last blog post about Ugi's Pizza caused quite a stir among my South American acquaintances. Its appearance on facebook is met with a simple response from a Peruvian friend who has lived in Buenos Aires for over twenty years: "I don't like the Ugi Pizza". Then another comment is forwarded to me: "we used to buy it to take away and eat in the street at 3am when we were goths and poor". Finally, Juan sets me straight. According to Argentine standards, pizza should have a layer of cheese of an equal depth to the base; the tomato sauce should be viewed merely as an afterthought. Here in Argentina, the cheese is all important; but quantity, not quality, is key.

My mistake, it appears, has been to compare Argentine pizza with the Italian version. Where Italian pizza is wafer thin, delicately daubed with tomato sauce and lightly scattered with cheese, its Argentine counterpart is hefty, solid, and weighed down by counterfeit mozzarella. The two are incomparable, rather like comparing sushi with fish and chips. The thousands of Italian immigrants that came to Argentina in the last couple of centuries must have changed the recipe somewhere along the way.

Piles of fainá at Pizzeria Güerrin
So, if I had to name my preferred place for Argentine pizza, I would suggest Pizzeria Güerrin, located on the eastern end of Avenida Corrientes, Buenos Aires' answer to Broadway. Wedged between numerous theatres, it houses a sit-in restaurant as well as a communal stand-up-and-eat-in bar area at the front, perfectly laid out for people-watching. Apart from the ubiquitous cheese-loaded pizza, they sell faína, a typically porteño delicacy which is shaped like a pizza slice, but made from chickpea flour, salt, oil, and not much else. The idea is to place the fainá on top of your pizza slice and eat the two together like a sandwich. Much as I am loathe to admit it, I quite like fainá. It goes down well with an ice-cold glass of beer.

Cheese, glorious cheese
In Plaza Serrano, Palermo, I share a pizza with Juan - once he has finished his complex lesson on the precise ratios of pizza toppings, that is. We are in one of the generic bar-cum-restaurants the square is mostly made up of, and the pizza is also acceptable, but certainly not overwhelming. I am inclined to agree with the general consensus, that pizza is very rarely, if ever, terrible: When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good.


  1. Laura meant to say 3am not 3pm - the time for goths and vampires in BAs...

  2. Oh yes, of course. I thought it a bit strange, but I have never understood the logic of eating times in Argentina so I didn't question it...