Argentines eat a lot of meat. They also consume a huge amount of pizza, and they’ll quickly tell you that Argentine pizza is the best. In fact, when wandering the streets of Buenos Aires, you’ll probably see as many pizzerias as you will parrillas and cafes. Pizza in Argentina is another of the nation’s customs brought and adapted by Italian immigrants. Today you’ll find a smorgasbord of varieties, from wood-fired-oven pizza and pizza a la parrilla (barbecued pizza), to gourmet and cheap takeout options.
Traditionally, the Argentine pizza comes with a thicker crust and spongier base than your quintessential Italian pie. Look out for three varieties: masa alta (thick dough), al molde (thinner and crunchier dough) and media masa (a combination of the two). Regardless of your choice, expect about an inch of cheese – traditionally mozzarella – sprinkled with compulsory green olives and the toppings of your choice. The porteño palate is, however, slowly maturing to accommodate new tastes, as you’ll see below.
The classic pizza menu will read something like this: mozzarella (or muzza), which is similar to a Margherita but with more cheese; Neapolitana, the muzza with added garlic and tomato; Calabrese, with the ubiquitous chorizo; and cuatro queso (four cheese). Typical toppings include anchovies, blue cheese, boiled egg, mushrooms, red pepper or more olives, among others.
Another icon of Argentine pizza is the fugazzeta, a slice of pizza with a cheese-filled crust topped with caramelized onions. The pizzeria Banchero (see below) lays claim to having invented it way back in 1893, when founder Don Agustín Banchero landed on Argentine soil from Genoa.
Now, what’s that unusual extra piece of bread that accompanies the pizza? This is fainá, an Italian-origin flatbread made from chickpea flour. It’s good as a starter – some variations come with Parmesan cheese and rosemary – but in Buenos Aires it’s eaten as a topping to create pizza a caballo (horseback pizza).
For the complete porteño pizza experience, order a moscata-pizza-fainá and wait for your waiter to deliver a slice of cheesy mozzarella pizza, the chickpea flatbread and a glass of Muscat (sweet wine) to wash it all down. The combination is so popular that local blues-rock band Memphis La Blusera wrote a song about it.
Where to Eat Pizza in Buenos Aires
Classic/Old-School Argentine-Style Pizza
Pizzería Güerrín (pizzeriaguerrin.com, Corrientes 1368, Centro). The classic of all classics. Since being founded by two Genovese immigrants in 1931, Güerrín has become a Corrientes institution, popular with theatergoers and workers on their lunch break. The signature pizza is the mozzarella, which arrives overflowing with melted cheese plus toppings of your choice. It’s busy and rowdy, but you’ll find some quiet in the upstairs salon.
El Imperio (Corrientes 6895, Chacarita). El Imperio is so deeply ingrained in local culture that the city of Buenos Aires declared it a sitio de interés cultural (place of cultural interest). Walk up to the counter, study the menu board, then select your pizza from the tempting display. It’s in front of Federico Lacroze train station, so it’s busy with commuters who grab snacks for their journeys home. Expect classic flavors, and be sure to try the fugazzeta.
Los Inmortales (Corrientes 1369, Microcentro). This is another Corrientes stalwart that has also branched out to several other city locations. The pizza a la piedra (thin oven-baked crust) is the favorite and there’s a good offering of calzones, too. Check out the memorabilia and photos on the wall, which celebrate Italian and Argentine popular culture. Taking pride of place in the Corrientes restaurant is a painting of Carlos Gardel by Carlos Leonetti.
Kentucky (losinmortales.com, Various locations). If hunger strikes at 6 a.m., midday or midnight, Kentucky is a great option to fill up on reasonably priced pizza. Select the pizza of your choice from the bar and take it to go or eat in. Expect the full range of Argie classics: mozzarella, fugazzeta and fainá, to mention a few. The state of Kentucky, incidentally, is not famed for its pizza. The name is just another of those wonderfully whimsical Argentine ways.
El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937, Retiro). Established in 1934, this is one of the city classics. The pizza al molde and media masa are firm favorites, as are the homemade fried empanadas. The atmosphere is great, too, and you can spend hours looking at the sport, music and film memorabilia that adorn the walls. Order at the counter or sit down for waiter service.
Punta y Banca (Honduras 4002, Palermo Viejo). This no-frills spot in Palermo Viejo is a firm favorite with taxi drivers, who call in to fill up on excellent fugazzeta and empanadas overflowing with cheese. The prices are more appealing than the ambience, but if you sit at the bar, you’ll no doubt engage in a heated political conversation with a regular.
Angelín (Córdoba 5270, Villa Crespo). This basic pizzeria lays claim to having invented the pizza canchera, originally a thin-crust pizza topped with tomato sauce, which became a staple at soccer stadiums. Today, you can enjoy the canchera with mozzarella and additional toppings. Expect a no-nonsense atmosphere, with waiters screaming orders, old men puteando at soccer matches and tables strewn with leftovers from previous guests – as authentic as it gets.
El Burgio (Cabildo 2477, Belgrano). Head off the tourist trail to this classic in Belgrano. Entering the restaurant is like taking a step back in time, as it seems little has changed since its opening in 1930. The menu boasts all of the porteño favorites, including empanadas. The outdoor seating offers a curious ambience of shoppers and heavy traffic on Cabildo.
La Mezzetta (facebook.com/pizzeria.lamezzetta, Álvarez Thomas 1321, Chacarita). Arguably the best takeout pizza in Chacarita. The menu is simple but customers wait eagerly for the fugazzeta. There’s no seating but you’re welcome to stand at the bar with your pizza and a cold beer.
Banchero (bancheropizzerias.com.ar, Various locations). The alleged creator of the fugazzeta, Banchero is a must for pizza lovers. The flagship restaurant is in San Telmo, which has welcomed notable names such as Eva Perón and painter Benito Quinquela Martín. Today the menu extends to empanadas, salads and steak but it’s the pizza that draws the crowds.
La Parrilla Argentina Pizza
La Más Querida (Echeverría 1618, Belgrano). Don’t be fooled by this pizzeria’s basic setting in Barrio Chino (Chinatown). Select great toppings, such as salmon, bacon and chili con carne, for your thin-crust base, then watch it come to life on the parrilla. Adding to the experience are various dips, including a Mediterranean mix and hot chili sauce. It’s the brainchild of former caterer-to-the-stars Buby Van Asperen.
La Hormiga (Armenia 1680, Palermo Soho). If you like big portions for your money, this is a good option. It’s predominately a parrilla – with a strong emphasis on grilled fish – but the menu includes a decent selection of pizzas.
1893 (Scalabrini Ortíz 701, Villa Crespo). 1893 is a good place for a date: candlelit tables, warm décor and pretty stained-glass windows. Enjoy thin-crust pizzas and a range of toppings cooked on the grill. There’s even a TV that often shows soccer games.
Morelia (morelia.com.ar, Various Locations). This is a good fusion of restaurant, pizzeria and lounge bar, with locations in Las Cañitas, Palermo Hollywood and La Lucila. Morelia uses big, refurbished houses to create a stylish setting to accompany its barbecued pizzas and other traditional Argentine fare (empanadas, pasta and steak). The pizzas range from fugazzetas to basic Margheritas. For a change, try the Fontina, with mozzarella, fontina cheese, sweet corn, roasted peppers and basil.
Señor Telmo (srtelmo.com.ar, Defensa 756, San Telmo). Founded by two pizza-loving friends and entrepreneurs, Señor Telmo sits on one of the city’s busiest tourist streets. Should you be able to find a seat, it makes for a great stop while exploring San Telmo’s Sunday artisan market. There’s a notable draught beer and wine selection, too.
Argentine Chain Pizza Worth Eating
Romario (romario.com.ar, Various locations). Romario fits the bill for lunch or a light snack with a beer. With 12 restaurants scattered around the city, there’s bound to be one near you. Prices are reasonable and there are 30-plus pizza styles to choose from, mostly mozzarella with a selection of toppings. Almost all restaurants have outdoor seating, making it especially popular on warm evenings.
Bakano (facebook.com/bakanopizza, Various locations). A huge pizza and calzone menu with pizzas available by the slice and in various sizes. Stop in around lunchtime or in the evening for good meal deals plus two-for-one drinks during happy hour. In the Palermo Chico restaurant, important soccer matches are projected on a big screen.
Punto Pizza (puntopizza.com.ar, Various locations). Get your hands on the once-elusive pepperoni pizza here. Choose between thick or thin crust and a range of topping styles, from lasagna to cheddar to nachos. If you can’t decide, opt for the Picadas de Pizza, which comes with four to five different flavors. It’s predominately delivery; only the Palermo Chico and Recoleta branches have small seating areas.
El Almacén de Pizzas (almacendepizzas.com, Various locations). Classic and gourmet toppings, thin-crust pizzas, fugazzetas and calzones. It’s one of the more expensive chains but there’s usually some good delivery deals. Groups of girls receive discounts on Wednesdays.
International and Italian Pizza
Siamo nel Forno (Costa Rica 5886, Palermo Hollywood). This simple yet authentic Italian restaurant serves the type of thin-crust and brick-oven pizzas you’d expect to find while strolling the streets of Naples. Specialties include the Autumno, with ricotta, shiitake mushrooms, bacon and spinach, and the Bianco e Rosso, a ricotta-, salami- and chili-filled calzone.
Filo (filo-ristorante.com, San Martín 975, Retiro). This Italian restaurant is popular with workers of B.A.’s Financial District. Find excellent Neapolitan-style pizzas with charred crusts and a range of toppings. Try the Filo, a wheel of pizza with toppings chosen on a whim by the chef. Also on offer are pasta and seafood dishes.
Piola (www.piola.it, Various locations). This is a worldwide Italian pizza chain that started in Treviso, Italy, before spreading its pizza-making prowess worldwide. Today, there are restaurants in funky locations such as Bogotá, Istanbul and Miami Beach. Choose from 40-plus wood-fired pizzas amid a cool setting, often with DJs spinning lounge music.