The Cubans would be envious of the minimal, über-communist style of dining mastered by Ugi’s Pizza. You walk in, order the one and only item available, pay, sit down, eat. Interaction is kept to a bare minimum and usually you find yourself in forlornly deserted surroundings.
I remember the first time I went to Ugi’s on my first visit to Argentina in 2008. My request to see a menu was met with a look of amusement by the server, that and deep contempt. Ugi’s don’t do menus, they don’t do choice (unless you consider choice to be the decision between a whole pizza and a quarter). Ugi’s do mozzarella pizza and nothing else, so you can like it or lump it. As it happens, I like it, and maintain that it is one of the better pizzas in Buenos Aires, despite Argentine friends finding my opinion unbelievable (you know who you are!). The base is doughy and yielding with just enough bite, and the tomato sauce is succulent. Ok, so the cheese is not proper mozzarella, but what do you want for nineteen pesos (£3) a pizza, big enough for two people? (Incidentally, a quarter pizza is charged at 4.75 pesos, exactly a quarter of the price of a whole one; apparently Ugi’s don’t do bulk buy discounts either.)
|Surely Argentina is not|
There is a running joke among expats and locals alike that Ugi’s prices illustrate the astronomical rate of inflation in the country. Indeed, when I arrived at the end of 2010 a pizza cost sixteen pesos, now at nineteen pesos, the ‘Ugi Index’ is looking a little worrying. In a strange turn of events, when I pass the San Telmo branch at the weekend, I notice the price has dropped to a mere fourteen pesos, thereby throwing the whole theory off course. Surely cause for celebration: I go in to have my quarter pizza slapped on the plastic plate in front of me; no fuss, no bother, just food.