I recently spent a week in Argentina — the land of steak (carne asado!), wine (vino!), and pizza (yes… pizza!). Until I started researching pizza prior to my trip, I never imagined that it would be such a big deal there. I’d previously been to Brazil and Colombia and I had very uninspiring pizza experiences in both places.
One article I read about pizza in Argentina claimed that there was a pizza place on nearly every block. Wrong! There were literally five places on every block. I felt like it was impossible to be standing on any street in Buenos Aires without being able to locate multiple pizza places. It might be a bit of an exaggeration, but in terms of pizza places per capita, I have no doubt that Buenos Aires would beat any other city in the world. But as any pizza lover knows… it’s about quality, not quanity.
I visited four pizza places during my trip: El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937), Banchero (Corrientes 1300), Las Cuartetas (Corrientes 838), and El Palacio De La Pizza (Corrientes 751). Each came highly reviewed and there were a dozen more places on my list that I wasn’t able to make it to (hey, a man needs to leave room for some steak!). Each place had similarities but the quality of the pizza and my experience at each place differed greatly.
My first foray into the world of Buenos Aires pizza was El Cuartito, which also happened to be my favorite place. The moment I walked in through the door I could feel the energy of the pizzeria. It was packed around noon on Saturday and the place looked like it hadn’t been renovated in years. It wasn’t dirty or grungy, but I could envision the atmosphere being the same when it opened in 1934. Some of the decorations made sense to me (Argentinian soccer uniform) while others did not (Mike Tyson Vs. Frank Bruno boxing poster).
Often times when new pizza places open in New York or elsewhere they try to create an old school retro vibe — the kind of vibe you’d imagine your ancestores might have encountered had they stumbled upon some hole in the wall pizza place in a small town in Italy. El Cuartito felt truly authentic. It’s the real deal — the kind of place that might serve as a model for what a pizza place should look like.
Nevertheless, when the people behind the counter saw me taking photographs, rather than giving me the evil eye as staff at some places did, they encouraged me to shoot away, even posing for photos (see below). After I placed my order, I took out my wallet and they told me to pay after I was done eating. This was juxtaposed with the service at other places at which I had to pay for my pizza upon ordering and bring my receipt to someone else who would then put in my order.
So by now you’re probably wondering about the actual pizza. The real highlight for me throughout my trip was the fugazetta pizza and nobody did it better than El Cuartito. Buenos Aires is known for it’s fugazetta pizza which contains double cream cheese, mozzarella, onion and olive oil. It’s also known for it’s similar tasting fugazza pizza which contains onion, grated parmesan cheese and onion. Onion happens to be one of my favorite toppings, so I was particularly excited to try these concoctions. You can click on the menus below (full Spanish on the right, English descriptions on the left) to get a sense of typical types of pizzas served in Buenos Aires.
If you have time to go to only one pizza place in Buenos Aires — make it El Cuartito. Great vibe, great atmosphere, great service, and most importantly… great pizza!