Casa Mario Lombardo
1/2 Oaxaca was freeing. I could indulge in Hawaiian pizza, the love that dare not speak its name in New York City, with no shame. Ham and pineapple is revered, ok, enjoyed by Mexicans in a way that is not allowed in the Northeast but likely still holds traction in many parts of the United States (growing up a half pepperoni/half Hawaiian was a standard family-pleasing order).
My theory is only bolstered by evidence found in the freezer case at Soriana.
Domino’s are not foreign to Oaxacans. In fact, I was kind of excited to see their delivery ad showcasing Hawaiian pizza propped up on the television in the Hotel Aitana, my second of three lodgings. This one was geared toward middle class Mexican travelers, a little pricey and no concessions made to English-speakers.
When you get the swan towel treatment you know you’ve made it.
That didn’t mean I was going to order Domino’s, though. Casa Maria Lombardo, an Italian restaurant featuring dishes cooked in the wood-burning oven seemed like a more serious option. When I stopped in after Spanish class everyone was eating pizza and I was initially surprised at the lack of tourists, considering every relatively nice place–wines served, quirky décor like cheese grater lamps, stand-up metal purse hooks–I’d been to up until this point were inhabited by Americans.
So, Hawaiian it was. Size chico. The sweet-salty combination neither Italian, Mexican nor Hawaiian was transformed even further by the two condiments presented to all diners: salsa and ketchup. Clearly, there is an audience for the ketchup though the only people I’ve ever known to add the sweet tomato sauce to their pizza were Filipinos. Salsa made perfect sense, however, I always drizzle a little Sriracha on my slices. This was just a chunkier, fresher rendition. And the style at Casa Maria Lombardo was very sparing with the tomato sauce foundation. A little extra spicy tomato-based moisture didn’t hurt.
The crust had even scattered leopard spots charred on the bottom but this is not the thin bubbly Neapolitan style appreciated in NYC. This was fork and knife pizza with enough structure to allow easy cutting. I don’t only enjoy pineapple on my pizza, I also refuse to fold, always going for the knife and fork even when plastic. Yes, I liked Mexican pizza.
Solo dining, I was generally invisible to all but bauble hawkers (who oddly never made an appearance in this restaurant) so I was surprised that a gentleman, one of two businessmen drinking lots of wine by the glass (they really should’ve just ordered a bottle) at the table next to me offered to take my photo. I think he felt bad seeing me by myself snapping shots of my food. Then I felt weird and explained that I actually like taking photos of my food and didn’t need a photo of myself then relented at the last minute because it might be the only one I’d have from this vacation. Unfortunately, it’s a blurry unflattering photo. He didn’t know how to use the camera and the flash was off and I have horrible blobby posture and was sunburnt. Even so, if I am to only have one photographic reminder of my Mexican vacation it should really involve Hawaiian pizza.
Casa Maria Lombardo * Abasolo 314, Oaxaca, Mexico