Thursday, February 12, 2009

When things are not what they appear or maybe they are. Sbarro's in Chile

I had noticed recently that in the stand-alone downtown foodcourt (do we have these in the States?), that a Sbarro's was going to open. In general getting a slice of pizza has not really caught on in Chile, though Verace on Jose Miguel de La Barra and Vortex (I think) and Rocco's "New York Style" pizza up in Providencia do what they can. Pizza is a whole different post here, about what constitutes pizza to a Brooklynite, and what constitutes bread with cheese and sauce.

But the other day I was out to lunch with a friend, and rather getting my usual veggie combo at Buffet, with its salty salads or gigantic vegetarian "pancake" which is a towering pile of crepes and salad makings "encrusted" with about two inches of chopped hardboiled eggs, I decided to give Sbarro's a try.

It looked vaguely Sbarro's-like. The pizza was cut in sixes, rather than in eights, to give you the authentic chance of actually filling up on a single slice of pizza. They had stromboli, and plain, veggie and pepperoni pizza, but didn't seem to have baked ziti, though the meatballs were bobbing around in their vat of sauce, just like at home.

I opted for cheese, and pleaded with the woman to please heat it up, though she insisted it was already warm. Chileans like their food cooler than I do, and I prevailed. I got the combo, with a "ligh" salad (don't pronounce the t, it will just confuse people) which was vaguely Americanized-Greek in nature, with little flecks of cheese, red onion and black olives (without pits!). I also got a diet coke, which I was asked if I'd like to supersize (no thanks), and went to pay. It was about 2500 pesos, which is around four dollars, cheaper surely than any Sbarro's in the United States for something similiar. There was neither hot pepper nor garlic powder to put on my pizza and I was denied a little plastic cup to put my salad dressing in "on the side." The employee checked with her manager, but apparently he/she said no. No plastic cups! No garlic powder! Just where do you think you are?

The pizza was... fine. Neither good, nor bad, but to be fair, I'm not a huge fan of Sbarro's. It's what I eat in the airport (at JFK) before my overnight flight to Chile because it's the only vegetarian option. The best part my pizza-eating in the foodcourt, of course was when I picked up my pizza with my hands and began to eat it. Because just like in the US, that black plastic cutlery just doesn't cut it (pun intended). Stares abounded.

Lesson learned. Next time go to Buffet.

In case you're interested, Chileans tell me that there used to be a Sbarro's at the airport in Santiago. I usually get the tuna and avocado wrap from Dunkin' (don't say the donuts part, that will confuse people, too), and think that after my latest experience, even if Sbarro' opens at the aiport again, I will continue to do so.

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