on December 17, 2005
Afternoons at Pizzeria Guerin operate like a well-oiled assembly line. Fresh, piping hot pies dripping with gooey mozzarella cheese are churned out one after the other. A steady line of hungry regulars file in, quickly and quietly devouring a slice or two of said pizza, often with faina and a small glass of muscava to boot. Empty plates are stacked. Repeat.Looking in from busy Avenida Corrientes, you wouldn’t think much of one of Buenos Aires’ most popular pizzerias. Long, plain counters take up most of the front room, with minimal décor livening up the small coffee bar and mini-kitchen to the counters’ left and right. A sharply dressed staffer fries up corn, beef, and chicken empanadas, while his bowtied coworkers take turns manning an old cash register and serving up slices with a friendly, business-like demeanor. Indeed, Guerin’s semi-formal presentation of what essentially mounts to fast food is equally refreshing, surprising, and ultimately comforting (not to mention thoroughly addicting.)We found ourselves ducking into Pizzeria Guerin just about every other afternoon, lured not just by its unflappable character and show-stopping pizzas but by the prices, too: a slice of plain mozzarella only sets you back AR$1.50, while a slab of authentic faina (a doughy, chickpea-based concoction eaten with a slice) runs a mere AR$1. Of course, there are a few other pizzas available, including one laced with green veggies and gobs of soft ricotta, but the plain cheese slices are like nothing you’ll eat back home. The mozzarella cheese sags off the saucy dough under its own delicious weight, as if the cook had carefully measured the right amount of cheese to produce exact melting results. But, as I said, no sooner do these pizzas come out of the oven than they’ve disappeared: proof-positive that Guerin’s smiling chefs know what they’re doing.A staggering amount of calorie-laden desserts await those with bestial hunger, including crème-filled crepes, delicately frosted cakes, and other sweet treats. And, of course, you’ll need something to wash it all down with: soda, wine, beer, and water are available. In a city known for world-class gastronomic opportunities, we felt a little guilty returning to Pizzeria Guerin so often. Surely the pizza wasn’t so good that it was worth ignoring a wealth of other restaurants that piqued our interest, right? Put it this way: on our last afternoon in Buenos Aires, after debating where to have our last lunch, we happily ended up filing in line, devouring two slices of plain mozzarella at the front counter, and stacking our empty plates when we were through.
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