Saturday, June 9, 2007

Boca, Indian restaurant, Fog, Ear Infections and Pizza

Before the Spider-Man movie last weekend, my wife and I went to a grand opening of an Indian Restaurant called Tandoor with another couple, Hernan and Andrea. While we were strategizing on how best to get a small plate of chicken ticka masala my wife asked about the Boca game. Hernan was a little depressed about it because he is a huge Boca fan and Boca had lost that game 3 to 1. I reassured him that Boca was going to win the next one. I really truly thought so and told him so. Right away he asked me if I wanted to go. My confidence in Boca must have awoken that positive spirit of his because as soon as I nodded yes he was on the phone scoring some tickets for the game. Now if only he could have worked the same magic on Tandoor... In all honesty though, the restaurant was overwhelmed. They had a bigger turnout than they expected and I am definitely going to go back on a regular night.

Game night: I meet up with Hernan on the corner of Corrientes & Pasteur. As we get into his car a friend of his said "Hey, the game might be called off on account of fog". We laugh it off thinking the guy was joking about the slight fog we saw around us. Fifteen minutes later we are sitting in traffic and in the middle of some crazy thick fog. We decided we were going anyway and luckily for us the game was delayed an hour due to this fog so we still managed to get their with time to spare. We were supposed to meet Hernan's contact at a YPF gas station near the stadium but this guy was a no show and he wasn't answering his phone.

We decided to look for scalpers. We asked everyone and no one had any tickets. We were just about to give up when all of a sudden a guy with a radio in his hands, and an air of authority, asked us how many we were. He directed us to a curb near him and told us not to move.

Me: "Hernan, are we going into the popular seats with "La Doce"? (infamous soccer hooligans).

Hernan: "Nah, La Doce are on the other side of the stadium. These guys are the 36." Or the 18th I can't remember which one he said, but he was just trying to be funny.

Anyway, I noticed a couple more guys like our guy with the radio and other pockets of groups of people. Our guy comes back and tells us to follow him. We walk up to the first turnstiles and the turnstile operators start to let everyone through in these groups. We walk up to a parking lot right next to the stadium and the radio guy sits on the hood of a car and tells everyone to cough up $50 pesos per person and to stand behind him once we paid.

We all do as instructed and then we follow him right up to the stadium where we wait again until he directs us to go through the police frisking area where we are patted down. Once we do that we go through a second set of turnstiles and we are in.

We walk up to the seats and find ourselves in "La Popular". This is where the hooligans watch the game and there are two of these sections, one behind each goal.
"La Bombonera" is actually very steep and even though we are up kind of high and behind one of the goals we can see the whole field. Well, we could see it if there wasn't any fog.

If you want to see and hear what that section looks like click here for a short 1.29 minute movie.
We could hear the chanting and the singing from outside the stadium and now we were right in the middle of it all. We were packed like sardines. The hooligans were leading everyone in song. It was loud, it was rowdy, and it was the most fun I have had watching a soccer game. Meanwhile I was starting to develop an ear infection and pink eye. By the second half my ears were ringing, my throat was soar, I was caughing, my nose was stuffy and my right eye was blurry. Boca prevailed and won the game 3 to 0. Now it's on the finals and to a doctor!

Before the doctor though we had to wait what seemed like an eternity to leave the stadium. We were even more smashed up against each other waiting to get to the stairs than during the game. What was even more amazing is that when any of the official hooligans needed to get through people just opened the way for them and somehow managed to make a path for them to walk through the crowd. Really it was so crowed I didn't think that was possible.

After the game we went out for pizza at El Cuartito. A fellow blogger, Dan from Saltshaker, wrote about his not very good experience with this place. However, I did visit once before and I did like my pizza, which was different from Dan's choice by the way. I really liked their fugazzeta. They have two flavors that are similar--the fugazza, which is a thin pizza with sweet onions on top and their fugazzeta, which is a pan pizza with lots of cheese and sweet onions. The pizza, paired with an ice cold beer, did the trick. I did not like their faina though.

How could I disagree with a local celebrity cheff? Hey, it's an opinion and there are several others that have waxed poetic on this place so I know that I am not the only one. Besides, at 1am this place was full. We had to wait for a table.

Now it was time to head home and call a doctor for the various infections that I was having. The doctor came within half an hour, left a prescription which I then had to go to Farmacity (a 24 hour pharmacy) and start taking the meds. Now I find myself with a day off at home having nothing to do but write.


SaltShaker said...

Come on Frank, it has nothing to do with one being a chef or not. Everyone has their own tastes and opinions. And, if you read my review carefully, it isn't that I didn't like the pizza at El Cuartito, I just thought it was okay, and that there's far better pizza available in the city - I've even been back to it to try other types of pizza there. I'd also note that I'd been led there by the insistence of a local foodie who insisted it was the best pizza in the city... which I'd bet you'd agree it's not. It turned out, as you'd find in my followup comments to the review, that he'd mispoken, and he was talking about the deep dish pizzas that you get as Las Cuartetas...

Unknown said...

Hi Dan,

We actually both agree because I only said that your experience was bad. I didn't have the pizza you had and vice versa.

You are also right in that I can't crown this place as the best. Anytime anyone puts a crown on any pizza place as being the best almost everyone comes out against it.

I might put together my own list of favorite pizza places, but I still need to do more homework on that subject. I still have yet to try one of your favorite spots (Las Cuartetas on Corrientes). Believe me you have convinced me to put that on my list of places to visit.

As for the cheff mention... I was just trying to label you briefly so that just in case someone stumbles upon this and doesn't know who you are (it seems everyone in Bs As knows Dan) they can have their curiosity peaked and wander on over to your site.

And if anyone out there who doesn't know Dan from Casa Saltshaker and you find yourself in the vicinity of Buenos Aires then you should visit his site and reserve a table for a unique and wonderful dining experience.

SaltShaker said...

I didn't mean it negatively to criticize your use of "chef" for my label - in fact I appreciate it. It was more that it sounded like you were saying you almost felt like you weren't qualified to disagree. If that wasn't your intent, I'm glad, it's one of those things that drives me crazy - folks who think they can't have a conversation with me about food because they don't have the same training... or won't invite me to dinner because they feel like I'd sit there and criticize - either out loud or at least internally. (Like anyone goes to anyone's house and doesn't at least have some thoughts?) Besides, I couldn't bake a biscotti that would come close to yours!

SFO said...

So Frank, where do you get deep-dish pizza in BsAs? Or do you actually prefer thin-crust, or (gasp), New York style?

My preference is anywhere within a block of my apartment. Fortunately I have three to choose from:

Morelia (Báez 260) – Their pizza a la parrilla is my favorite (I know Dan has given a positive review of the Palermo Viejo location).

Tonno (Arce 401) – A non-touristy, inexpensive but good café-pizzeria. And it’s open all day, which is a big plus for me.

Piegari Piazza (Báez 400) Haven’t tried this one yet. It’s gotten mixed reviews. Free WiFi too!


Unknown said...


Thanks! I wish I could to, but I have to give credit where it's due. Those kudos go to my wife.

Unknown said...


I find the pizza, in general, so different here that I don't even care if it's pan or thin. I appreciate either one as long as it's good.

I haven't tried either of those places you mentioned so there are some more for me to try. I don't get to try as many as I would like since I am usually with my very picky 5 year old with an unadventurous palate.

One place we both enjoy, and is in your area, is in La Stampa. It's an Italian restaurant right above Persicco. It is a thin style pizza.

The only pan pizza I have had has been in El Cuartito so far. I have some places to try out that Dan has mentioned in his blog.

99 said...

Frank, I want to tell you a little secret about porteños.
Of course we love to eat or drink good stuff but most of the times we choose certain places for other reasons.
El Cuartito is a landmark in Buenos Aires. You might have read their slogan on the wall "gracias a usted, a sus padres y a sus abuelos". It has a lovely and long history of being the meeting point for boxers, famous old people and families in general. You might have also seen places where it reads "salon familiar arriba".
I personally adore El Cuartito and its pizza but most of all the tradition.
Coffee is another example. When we want to meet somebody we invite a cafecito although nobody is really interested in the flavour or brand of the coffee served. We don´t even care if it is umbrella juice. We´ll probably end up drinking whatever, maybe a diet coke. Nobody cares. The cafecito is only the excuse, it´s just for the sake of having good company.
That´s why nobody rushes you with the bill either. Mozos don´t bother you as a sign of respect for your private moment. Or they might sit at your table in a neighborhood joint if they feel you´re lonely and need to talk.
For the majority of us the quality of pizza or coffee is by far the least most important thing. It´s like when you go to "the Billy Goat" in downtown Chicago... who cares about their cheeseburgers?
Only tradition and soulful moments.
Sounds like tango, no?

Unknown said...


Yo so have it right. The first time I went to el Cuartito was with my father in law. He has been going there for years and he wanted to share this place with me. By the way, he is a type A personality and very picky about his food. Whenever he goes to the United States, he already knows where he is going to eat and he is rarely dissapointed because he researches. I have fun finding places for him to eat at. For example, I found him a restaurant in Miami that flies in a fish from Spain that is covered in salt. He loved it.

Anyway, I love to go to places for the company. I really do, but I also think it would be great if they have nice things to eat. That would be having the best of both worlds.

Although every Chicagoan knows of the Billy Goat Tavern, and obviously some Argentines (you impressed me), I really have a hard time remembering the burgers there. I only went once. I do remember who I went with, so point taken dear.

However, it is good fun to look for the best (insert your favorite foods here).

So what where your favorite places in Chicago (independently of the quality of the food)?

99 said...

Hard to separate good places from good food in Chicago! Well, these are the first that come to my mind:
Emperor`s Choice, 2238 S.Wentworth
Old Jerusalem, 1411 N. Wells
Lou Mitchell's, 565 W Jackson Blvd
Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont Ave.
Eating while walking Maxwell St.Market on Sundays, Canal St. & Roosevelt
An unnamed Buddhist hot dog stand (no joking) in the Polish neighborhood
Any Indian-Pakistani restaurant on Devon Ave. -wow, I miss them so much!
and of course the "Pepsi,noCoke-Coke,noPepsi" Billy Goat Tavern where I went all the time... -by the way, their cheesburgers suck-

I´m sure I´m forgetting some more...

Unknown said...

I guess I was spoiled that way. I always looked for the good food. By the way, I used to live close by to Ann Sather's and I loved it that they served their warm cinnamon buns with their coffee without asking for them.

Along Belmont there used to be an Indian restaurant, family owned and operated, that I loved going to and has disappeared.

I also frequented a Mexican restaurant one block away from The Metro (along Clark Street) in front of Wrigley Field. Actually stumbled to it right after a night of dancing and drinking at the Smart Bar.

There was also a European bakery that was also family owned and operated along Belmont. I would go their on the weekends. They would have a big glass window where you could see the bakers working on the scones, biscotti, cakes, cookies, etc. This one is still there but the name currently escapes me.

Thanks for sharing your list. I guess that's why I can't remember the cheeseburger I had there. It sounds like you knew the city pretty well.