|by Maureen Santucci||Art + Culture, Food + Drink, Pop Culture and Travel, Cusco, Cuzco, Food + Drink||0|
When it comes to food, what often strikes people are the things that just aren't eaten at home. In Cusco, Peru, what often strikes people is the number of places that offer pizza, especially for an area that has not seen a high influx of expats from either Italy or New York City. If all the hawking around town leaves you craving that cheesy pie, here are the three best places to satisfy your hunger.
Justina, Calle Palacio 110; Open Mon-Sat, Dinner only, from 6 p.m.
Relaxed and chill are the best ways to describe this small, out of the way pizza place. You have to enter a colonial courtyard where half of the building is in romantic ruin. Although I know renovation is inevitable, I can't help hoping it stays that way forever. The pizza place is in the back of the courtyard with a couple of outdoor tables and an additional five inside and upstairs. Seating is limited and the place is popular so it's worth getting there early. Choose from a wide variety of toppings; the price of a pie is quite reasonable, especially for the quality. Yummy garlic bread is served while you wait for your pizza to be cooked, served with a spicy salsa and garlic mayonnaise. Another reason this place is one of my favorites is the extremely reasonably priced wine. For drinks, you can also choose beer, soda or water; food options are limited to pizza and pizza alone.
La Bodega 138, Herrajes 138; Open Mon-Sat, from 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Just down the street from Justina is La Bodega. (Please note that Cusco streets frequently have different names depending on the block you're on). Equally delicious, La Bodega features a slightly different style of crust as well as some different varieties of toppings. One of my personal favorites includes bacon, blue cheese, and sauco, a type of elderberry. La Bodega also gives you more choices than pizza: pasta, really superb salads, soups, and desserts are on the menu as well. Fairly priced wine also makes its appearance, with greater variety than those on the Justina list. Seating is not quite as comfortable here, but it definitely has a more upscale feel. When it's crowded, it can be a bit difficult to hear so if you're purposely looking forward to dinner conversation, this pizza place may not be the best choice. There can be a wait so if you try here and you can't get in, walk down the street to Justina. Another plus side is that, unlike my other two favorite pizza restaurants, La Bodega is open for lunch.
La Cantina, Saphy 554; Daily from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
No mention of the best pizza in Cusco could be complete without including La Cantina. Although it is primarily a wine bar, people do go here just for the pizza—Italian style with a delicate wafer crust and featuring all Italian cheeses and meats (veggie options available as well). The pizza oven is small, only fitting one at a time and, despite being large in diameter, they are so light that they are personal-sized for a hungry person. Try some different toppings between the group so you can sample some of the varieties. In addition to the pizza, there are also cheese and meat plates, lasagna, and tiramisu for dessert. Most importantly, there is a huge selection of wines from Italy. As it is first and foremost a wine bar, the friendly and obliging staff are happy to open a bottle of whatever you like, even if you want just a single cup. However, the wine is so good, you're unlikely to be able to stick to just one!
Originally from the U.S., Maureen Santucci now calls the ancient Peruvian capital of Cusco home, where she has lived for almost six years, working as a travel consultant and writing for Fodors Travel Guide. This article was written on behalf of Tucan Travel, experts in adventure tours to Machu Picchu and all over Peru.