Buenos Aires is undeniably South America’s pizza capital and there is a pie to suit anyone’s taste. In a city with more Italian descendants than New York City, it is not surprising that Argentina puts their own twist on everyone’s favorite Italian dish.
Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great pizza capitals, at least in the sheer number of pizzerias.
In southern hemisphere’s ‘city that never sleeps’ you can’t walk a city block without passing a pizza joint, or at least an eatery that serves pizza among other typical Argentine foods. Many Buenos Aires downtown pizzerias are open until the wee hours of the morning.
Pizza’s Eternal Popularity
Argentina may be celebrated for its meat, but the BBC reported that in recent years pizza is overtaking steak as the most popular dish for diners in Argentina.
Argentina’s South American spin offs of Italian food are abundant thanks to the large number of Italians that immigrated to Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Buenos Aires residents have enjoyed pizza as long as their cousins in New York, but a Buenos Aires pie is an original creation, resembling Chicago-style deep dish more than the New York or Naples pizza varieties.
Argentine-Style: Pizza, Fainá & Moscato
Standard Argentine pizza is called ‘pizza de molde‘. It has a thicker crust than traditional Italian style pizza and includes more a lot more cheese.
Visitors who don’t like the ‘traditional-Buenos Aires style’ pizza (and there are quite a few) complain about the cheesiness and the thick dough, originally meant to fed hungry immigrants.
The pizza tradition in Buenos Aires mostly comes from Genoa. The old standby in Buenos Aires is the classic mozzarella pizza (called a muzza), always topped with at least one olive. Other popular pies are the Neapolitan (with tomatoes and garlic) and the Calabrese, protagonized by chorizo (course meat sausage).
Typical extra pizza toppings include red pepper, anchovies, thinly-sliced ham, blue cheese, artichoke hearts and onions.
The American pizza topping classic, pepperoni, doesn’t exist in traditional Argentina pizza houses, except for those that specialize in American-style pizza.
Fugazetta: Buenos Aires Original Pizza Pie
One Buenos Aires’ original pizza pie that is sure to bring out one’s inner Diego Maradona is the fugazetta.
This Buenos Aires original pie includes gooey cheese inside the crust and is topped with a generous slathering of caramelized onions and sometimes ham (but no tomato sauce).
The Buenos Aires pizzeria Banchero, founded by an immigrant from Geneo in 1932, is the originator of the fugazza spin-off.
Around Buenos Aires pizza — particularly fugazetta — is accompanied by fainá, a flatbread made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Known as farinata in Italy, fainá is designed to be doubled up with the pizza for ‘pizza a caballo,‘ or piggyback pizza. Eaten together, pizza and fainá originally served as a cheap meal for hungry immigrants in the La Boca neighborhood.
Modern, fancier versions of fainá include Parmesan cheese, rosemary and onion powder.
Argentina’s tiny population of vegans love fainá because it’s a healthy way to get some protein and is yummy enough to eat plain.
Another common accompaniment to pizza in very traditional Buenos Aires pizzerias is moscato (muscat), a sweet wine.
An Argentine classic with which you can’t go wrong is the universal combination, honored in song, ‘moscato-pizza-y-fainá‘.
Best Traditional Pizza Places in Buenos Aires
Foreigners opinions on pizza in Argentina run the gamut — some think it is an abomination and others relish the greasy, filling slices served piping hot on Corrientes Avenue.
Try traditional Argentine-style pizza at long-running Buenos Aires’ pizzerias downtown such as Güerrín, El Cuartito, El Palacio de la Pizza, the aforementioned Banchero to get a baseline for what is considered standard Argentine pizza.
For a new twist on the old, Güerrin recently added vegan pizza to their menu, after protesters descended on the pizza joint on World Vegan Day.
Buenos Aires Pizzerias with Fancier Pies
In recent years Argentina’s doughy, cheesy pizza parlors have made way for a diverse range of pizzerias in the capital to suit everyone’s taste.
Authenticity and freshness of ingredients separates a really good pizza joint from the rest. Pizza snobs know the best pizza should be served in the simple style of the Italian peninsular — a thin, wood-fire cooked base, adorned with extra virgin olive oil with a rich tomato sauce, flavored with a little garlic, basil or oregano – simple and delicious.
Add a couple of high quality, fresh ingredients to make the perfect pizza pie.
The true pizza connoisseur will also want to try a traditional Neapolitan style-pie at a place such as Siamo nel Forno, a favorite with the fashionable Palermo crowd.
The big winner on the Buenos Aires pizza scene lately is San Paolo Pizzería, which was voted one of the world’s top pizza joints by ‘Italian experts’ in 2020.
San Paolo Pizzería serves up traditional Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizza a bit on the pricey side, but the outdoor seating and delicious pizza make it worth it. (They also have a good and hard-to-find-in-Buenos-Aires fried calamari appetizer.)
Not exactly traditional, but San Telmo’s ‘The pizza OTL‘ (which stands for ‘Only True Love’) from the restaurant, Hierba Buena has delicious pizzas with sourdough crust. After a two-hour wait for delivery, it just might be the best pizza in Buenos Aires. Alternatively, try their outdoor dining on the tranquil Caseros Street by Parque Lezama.
Those craving New York style pizza-by-the-slice, with toppings such as pepperoni and portabella mushrooms should head to Hell’s Pizza to try the ‘Obama,’ ‘Jackie Kennedy,’ or the spicy jalapeño-topped ‘Hell’s pizza’. They also have gluten-free and vegan pizza.
Another good option for North American-style pizza is the descriptively-named New York Style Pizza in Palermo Hollywood.
Those staying in Belgrano have three good options: Pizzaria La Fina, Teglia in the Belgrano R sector, or Pony Pizza in Belgrano C.
Those traveling with a a family or a group may want a range of different pizzas, in which case Los Maestros is a good bet, with three north-side locations and over 50 varieties of pizza.
Vegans will also be interested to know that there is also a small Buenos Aires chain called Pizza Vegana, that makes their pizza dough with potatoes.
Pizza a la Parilla
A trip to Buenos Aires wouldn’t be complete without trying pizza made on the grill.
Using a grill as a stand-in for a pizza oven, this Argentine specialty was born in backyard parties when someone’s dying to fire up the grill, but times are too tight to buy meat.
1893 Pizzeria, named for the year the building was constructed, is the spot for grilled pizza in the Villa Crespo neighborhood. The pizzeria closed during Covid after operating for 25 years. In 2020, thirteen workers occupied the building and formed a cooperative to save their jobs. The cop-op offers up the popular thin-crust pizza a la parilla and the typical Buenos Aires cheesy thick crust pizza.
The highly celebrated La Mas Querida in Belgrano C serves up thin-crust pizza grilled on the barbecue with an original array of toppings. Try the popular enchilada pizza.
Argentina’s Little-known Contribution to Pizza: The Pizza Saver
If any more evidence is needed to secure Buenos Aires’ position as an important contributor to the world of pizza, it is the birthplace of the guardapizza or ‘pizza saver.’
In 1974 an Argentine inventor patented a tiny plastic device to place in the middle of a pizza which prevents take-away or delivery pizza from getting smashed in transit. He called the little table-like gadget the SEPI (‘separador de pizza,’ or ‘pizza separator.’)
You can thank Argentina for all the unsmushed delivery pizzas you’ve devoured in life!
Pretentious Pizza? Dining with a Knife & Fork
Another peculiarity of Argentina’s pizza scene is that, like the Italians, they typically eat it using a knife and fork. Argentina has some pretty ‘old world’ dining customs and etiquette, and using utensils to eat pizza is considered more hygienic and refined that using one’s hands.
Whether visitors use a fork and knife or not, the variety of pizzerias in Buenos Aires ensures that there’s a slice for everyone.
Don’t forget to try the fugazzeta, fainá and moscato and of course a pizza a la parilla for the full Buenos Aires pizza experience.
– Dan Colasimone & Ande Wanderer
→ Hungry in Buenos Aires, looking to learn something new and meet people? Sign up for one of our Buenos Aires Food Tours
⇒ Sign up online for a three-hour Buenos Aires Gourmet Food Tour