Do you know where to get a good slice of pizza in UB?
That is the question I asked around town when I came in after thirteen months in my countryside soum center of Bayankhongor, where pizza is not a real restaurant option. I like pizza, and in the States, I especially go for non-franchise, local shops that work hard to provide good pizza for a thrifty budget. I also occasionally respect specialty pizzas that take a chance to be more than just crust, sauce and cheese. Fortunately for me and those who like pizza, Ulaanbaatar has something for everyone if you know where to look for what you like.
As the famous story goes, an Italian baker named Raffaele Esposito created a dish to impress a visiting King Umberto, and his wife, Queen Margherita in the late 1800s. He achieved this by topping his flat bread with the national colors using red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese and green basil. The monarchs were complimentary of the dish, and it was heavily copied. As with the office Canon, the copies of copies of copies started to become new things all their own.When Italians began immigrating in large numbers to the United States in the early 1900s, they brought their national dish with them to large cities like New York and Chicago, where they morphed to meet the differing demands. But it was not until after WWII when GI’s, who counted on the food to supplement their rations in wartime Italy, came home with hankerings for their familiar cheese-topped chow, that the dish really joined the national diet.
What makes a pizza a pizza?
Sometimes called simply a “slice,” a “pie,” or “za”, it is a whole meal in one dish. It is easy to make, it has a wide variety of nutritional necessities, and even when it is bad, usually it is still pretty good.
Probably the most disappointing pizza trial I wrapped my taste buds around was at Marco Polo, near the circus. For my preference, the pizza was simply bland. The brick oven margherita had a good thin crust perfectly suited for this style of pizza, and the toppings were fresh. Those qualities aside, there was not a hint of garlic, oregano or anything else resembling flavor. If your palate is less demanding of these spices, this could be your place for a nice evening out. And for the lover of the unorthodox white-sauced slices, Marco Polo has your pizza too. If you are an American looking for a taste of the old familiar from the mother country, you could do better to save your tugriks for tastier food.
California –pretty good, 10% VAT, good size but moderately overpriced, great cocktails
I only tried the pizzas that were recommended to me, and despite some deficits, there are surely some good pizza options among this group for the differing palates among the international travelers, foreign expats, and both countryside and urban Mongolian pizza enthusiasts. There are more out there to discover for yourself, though, so ask around and find that perfect pizza – za yu [ok]?