Food & Drink

Stranger in a Strange Land

Eating Pizza in Cuba

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According to the seemingly credible stats I just looked up, very few Italians live in Cuba. And yet, as I noticed on a recent trip there, pizza is everywhere. You can find it in the family-run “Italian” restaurants dotting Havana. You can procure a wood-fired pie at casual trattorias. And you can walk up to countless windows selling slices for 50 cents.

My best guess for its prevalence: pizza is delicious, and people everywhere want to eat it. But it’s also likely that visiting tourists requested pizza on their travels, so local Cubans did their best to create it.

And as far as the actual pizza goes, it’s a mixed bag. The cheaper slices tend to feature thicker crusts, heavier, sweeter sauces and gouda. Lots of gouda. The pricier (and more traditionally Italian) slices are typically thinner and often employ mozzarella and parmesan—sometimes in addition to that popular gouda.

And topping those pizzas is a real range of options, from your standard vegetables to plantains, picadillo, Spanish sausage, serrano ham and seafood. It’s all fair game: shrimp, squid, anchovies and even lobster.

It was good stuff, for the most part. All of the above tasted great with a refreshing local beer. And even the lobster-topped pizzas were rarely priced north of $6, so that was equally refreshing.

—Kevin Gray

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