This story's been rising like an overproofed lump of dough in the back of my brain for too long not to finally write it.
Santiago seems to be turning its image around. If Anthony Bourdain can like it, and the NYT can print a story on it, and Confessions of a Travel Writer show can feature it and bloggers can write about it (hey! that's you guys!), then surely we've come a long way, bebe.
And then there's this.
This is a story published at Matador, a website I do a bunch of work for, and so I guess the guy who wrote this is a co-worker, except we all really just work on the internet, and to some extent that makes all of you my coworkers. Except I can write Tom an email if I wanted, and I can't write all of you emails, though I could try.
So yeah, the story. And here it is! The Five Worst Pizzas in the World. Now go and come back.
Back? What you may have noticed, in addition to the hearty debate about whether Buenos Aires does or does not use good cheese on their pizza, and the appropriate quantity of said cheese and who has to take who around to show them what and whether or not Tom's palate is up to the task (surely it is!), is that the very first of the worst five pizzas is from Pronto Pizza, in La Serena.
La Serena is a smallish beach city about six hours north of here, and it's sort of the next great city in Chile. It's gaining ground as a place people want to move to, where satellite offices can be set up, etc. What it is not, apparently gaining is pizza lovers. When the article went up a bunch of us blogueras (thats ladyblogger to you) started talking about pizza in Chile. We talk about food alot from the unavailability (or availability) of bagels to where to get the best hallullas according to a very fancy ex-business woman food/wine writer luxury tourguide turned business woman (I think) again.
So in light of Santiago's surging popularity, our desire to write about food, and this horrible-yet-well-deserved character assassination, and the fact that I grew up in New York, and New Yorkers should be trusted to tell you six ways to get to your next location and also where to get pizza, I present to you:
Five places to get pizza in Santiago that doesn't bite!
1. Golfo di Napoli, Irrarrazaval 2423, Ñuñoa. The hands down winner for price plus taste is this resto hidden through a tiny doorway near the Nike Outlet on Irrarrazaval, just below Pedro de Valdivia. You get little bread bits and ricotta to nosh on before the main event, and there are a variety of mostly-traditional pizzas to choose from but newfangledish ones like arugula do show up. Buffalo or regular mozzarella, almost enough sauce, crispy but yielding crust, thin, but not too thin. Can be folded or not, no pools of grease (can be a negative but in this case is not). A pizza (enough for 1.5 or 2) will run you around $7 US.
2. Tiramisú, Isidora Goyonochea 3141 Las Condes/El Bosque. This place is well-known, and full of cuicos (Chile's version of an unpleasant upperclass person/yuppie type) and other assorted happy pizza-lovers. Their salads are also good and the service is faster than you'd expect, but you will often have to wait here. Almost as good as Golfo di Napoli, sometimes maybe even as good, but the crust is slightly too thin, the sauce slightly too sparse and the cuicos really get on my nerves. Plus it's a little more expensive than Golfo de Napoli.
3. Pizza Assis. You will absolutely be shocked to find this place near Plaza Italia, right on the Alameda (south side) before Baquedano. They put all kinds of freaky stuff on their pizza like corn and hearts of palm if you are not careful, but this pizza is darn cheap. Sauce is not that flavorful, but the crust and cheese and stuff are all cooked together, and it actually tastes like pizza, which is a true triumph in this country, and especially in this neighborhood which mostly sells sandwiches or Kentucky Fried Chicken. There's another location in Provi, on Santa Magdalena if I'm not mistaken
4. Pizza Sí/Backstage. (on Tobalaba or in Patio Bellavista) I hesitate to say I like Pizza Sí, because the truth is that the crust is so thin that I could roll it up like a taquito and eat it like that. Except that it's too crispy. But it has the ingredients of a real pizza, including risen dough, sauce and cheese that did not come in pellets, so I'll give it a not-unenthusiastic thumbs' up.
5. There is no 5.
Actually, I'd like to open the concurso (competition) to a very unexpected place in the way south of Chile, in Puerto Natales. This place, called La Mesita Grande blew my mind. It's saucy, stringy, thin-crusted and altogether tasty. It was also the first thing I'd eaten all day after a very long hike, but I went back later to test my love, and found it still present. You sit at shared wooden tables on long benches, and you're in one of the most beautiful little towns I've ever seen and a cool wind will whip you back home no matter what time of year. Love.
Then there's everything else.
There's attempts at by-the-slice pizza, at Rocco's, vVoraz (provi) and Verace (Bellas Artes). There's chain pizza (Domino's, Pizza Hut, the dreaded Telepizza). There are a few indie places that don't do too bad, including Per Piacere down in Barrio Brasil, but get the individual, not family-sized because the family-sized is on "pre-pizza" and is all kinds of yucky. Also, be sure not to order the pizza with berries on it, because it's like having a bucket of jam on your pizza. I used to not hate O Sole Mio in Barrio Brasil on Moneda until they picked the salami off and presented it to me as though it were a new pizza, despite me specifially saying "No como carne, la quiero sin carne" (nice for: I'm a vegetarian, you idiot).
So, chicas (and chicos), whatcha got? Where have I not been that I simply must try? Where have you been that I'd rather cry than try? Please! For the sake of Chile and all that is good in the world of pizza, please tell me, how can I get more bread and cheese into my diet?
Thanks. When we come up with a good list, let's go out and grab a bite. I'll bring the merquén.