Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pizza in Santiago that doesn't bite

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.


Ely's Mom said...

Call me crazy, but the pizza at Catedral wasn't bad. Actually, their little shrimp concoction was not objectionable at all. I'd say it deserves to be on the list.

Sue said...

Which one did we go to?

Eileen said...

Taryn, I haven't tried the one from Catedral, as the one time I was there I was with a bunch of people who wanted crudo, so clearly I just had a diet coke.

Sue, we went to number 1, Golfo di Napoli, near the Nike store. Toronto and Sweden seal of approval (though I'm not sure we should go by Sweden!)

Still Life in South America said...

I would have written a post about Golfo di Napoli, but I didn't really feel that it was "mine" to recommend. I'm glad you gave it a shout out. That is one food I'll miss in Santiago!

One a semi-related note, there is a good falafel and hummus place in in Chinatown. It's called El Gringo on Antonia Lopez de Bello. You may already know of it.

Abby said...

I thought that place we went to on Semenario was good, granted I didn't order pizza, but I think I ate a piece of Sara's and remember it fondly.

That being said, I'm not a pizza snob at all. I actually don't hate Telepizza (did I just admit that publicly??)

What I do hate is "pizza" on hallulla type crust with no sauce, tons of greasy cheese and some limp tomatoes on top. That, my friends, is NOT pizza.

Eileen said...

GAH! Abby is totally right El Ciudadano on Seminario is very decent, and cheap and heavens don't try to show up without a reservation on a Friday, or pray you get lucky like we did. So I would make this number five, and sneak the other in as a bonus. Well done!

Still life, yes, that place is good. I'm not a huge fan of falafel, but I know that place you're talking about, my favorite Asian grocery store is there, too. Plus Rincón Arabesco, which is always a good place to pop in and browse, and maybe buy some tahini.

Emily said...

Haha, I also wrote a post about pizza, although it was about a year and a half ago by now. People find my blog all the time from searching "Pizza Azzis". I really like their pizza, although I STILL haven't tried Golfo di Napoli. Must go! Ditto Ciudadano, heard it's great.

La Pizza Nostra on Providencia and Pedro de Valdivia is pretty decent if you're hungry around there, and Wallo's on Simon Bolivar and Diagonal Oriente is Brazilian-style pizza. They have some crazy toppings (and the option of a cream-cheese-filled crust) as well as dessert pizzas.

Eileen said...

link it up Emily, more the merrier! I've been to that Pizza Nostra and let's say reasonable minds will have to differ.

Cheap as dirt and plentiful elementary-cafeteria style pizza is also avail at Italianissimo on the corner of Moneda and San Martín. But you kind of get what you pay for.

I've passed Wallos a million times, but I think they don't do slices, and I was always in transit to somewhere. I do like Brazilian pizza, even though its' a little un-pizzalike. With catupiry (sp?) cheese? now that's tasty.

Anonymous said...

Im not a big fan of pizzas, but the best place i had been is la pizza nostra, give it a chance.

Eileen said...

hey anon, I have given it a chance, see comment above yours. I didn't like it, the crust was gummy. But I'm willing to give it another shot, especially if Emily and now someone I don't know now recommend it again.

Eileen said...

oh, also there used to be a place called something like Uva y Vino next to the Russian church/store that is now something else. Their pizza was okay, but they're long gone, so I'm pretty sure they don't count.

Keep them coming! An off-blog friend or two prefer Tiramisu because they have nice salads, which makes for a great pic n' share.

Annje said...

Well, I can't offer any good options, but I do remember some really weird pizzas--that probably couldn't even be called pizza with like green beans and roast beef.
I am with Abby on telepizza--if you are just in the mood for some fast, cheap and greasy pepperoni pizza, it does the job.

and ugh crudo! on your comment above. What is up with that?

(and you know I was totally kidding on the iphone comment-right?)

Anonymous said...

In Viña, Diego's Pizza is pretty good!! it's one of those "gourmet" pizza places and loads up on heaps of exotic toppings and cheese.

It's next to the domino's and pizza hut on San Martin.

Anonymous said...

Oh! and the picture of the pizza from BA in the other post is like he came into my kitchen last night and snapped what we ordered. It's eerie how all of the pizzas here look the same.

Andrea said...

For number 5, I'd like to suggest "Mutto's Pizza" in Av. Pedro de Validivia, Concepción (don't know if you've been to that city.