Every May, the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina hosts its annual Italian Food Week. In Argentina, the Italian influence is everywhere—the food, the fashion, the hand gestures and the futbol. And there is plenty of modern day evidence that descendants’ of immigrants who came to Buenos Aires in the 1900s are flourishing.
45 different restaurants participate in this annual week of foodie heaven featuring special menus, special prices and special events. It’s reasonably priced: three course lunches in the 10 dollar range and three course dinners in the 20 dollar range. Who could resist? I was lucky enough to get out to sample a bit of what the city had to offer.
A Fancy Place: La Pecora Nera
It’s dinner time. We’re talking chandeliers, white tablecloths and the posh neighbourhood of Recoletta. The appetizer is a beef carpaccio of thinly sliced layers (think paper thin) of beef tenderloin delicately seared on the outsides before being sliced. Add incredible pecorino romano, olive oil and a few capers for the perfect Food Week opening.
The main dishes are fresh pasta stuffed with mushrooms in a creamy mushroom sauce. Hand made pasta is always delightful! But even with a mushroom filling and mushroom sauce this one left me wanting a bit more flavour.
Next up is a risotto made with local pork, vegetables and Parmesan piled high atop the dish. The rustic presentation in a wooden bowl made this perfectly seasoned and hearty dish one to remember.
For dessert it’s the Italian classic known the world over and here in Buenos Aires: Tiramisu! A slight twist on the original, La Pecora Nera makes this dessert with house-made coffee ice cream on the side—eccezional! Don’t forget to finish it all off with a little Limoncello.
The Everyday Place: Il Ballo del Mattone
At lunchtime this spot is simply bustling with people milling and dining around checkered table cloths in what is known as Palermo Hollywood. The appetizer here is mushrooms a la provençal (with garlic and parsley) on freshly baked bread with greens. Note to lovers: this dish is truly delicious but will give you major garlic mouth. Dates are advised to order mushrooms a la provençal in tandem.
The main is a penne-like pasta with tomato sauce, bacon and peppers. Though right texturally, the pomodoro sauce at Il Ballo del Mattone could have benefitted from a little kick. This pasta is beautifully multi-coloured, hand made and comes in an unusual shape. Also try the lasagna a la bolognese–I’m pretty sure this is somebody’s actual grandmother’s recipe and it is superb.
It says a lot when a restaurant when it is bursting with people at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon. Ok it mostly just says that it’s amazing and you should get in line. But all that considered, I’d be remiss not to mention the other exceptional Italian gem that is a must do in this city.
The ice cream shops. They’re simply everywhere in Buenos Aires and they are simply fantastic. Unimaginable flavours made to perfection include, whisky ice cream (surprisingly good), the Argentinian classic, dulce de leche ice cream and of course, tiramisu. Welcome to Italian Food Week in Buenos Aires. I hope you packed your appetite!