If the Pizza Snob visited the North Pole, he’d try to find a pizza place there. Like those other famous explorers, I would have no idea what to expect, but I’d be pursuing a personal passion and of course come back with something to write about. But I really don’t like the cold that much, so Mrs. Pie and I instead checked off one of our bucket list vacations by visiting the magnificent Central American country of Costa Rica.
However, pizza was not going to be easy to come by. We were in Guanacaste Province on the Pacific Ocean side of the country and somewhat confined to our all-inclusive resort. There would be some opportunities to escape, but the pizza joints I was able to locate on the map were distant and travelling in Costa Rica was about as familiar to me as ice fishing in the North Pole.
Arriving on the long journey from the airport in our courtesy van, I did happen to see the word “pizza” a few times, but of course had no idea if the places I spotted would ever be accessible. During our week, we would be leaving our compound only twice: once for a group tour to a volcano and the other when I would bravely take to the roads on a beach tour in a rental car. The latter seemed to be my lone opportunity to eat at least one slice in this foreign land.
When the day came, we headed north along the Pacific coast touring the beautiful Costa Rican beaches, each one unique. Driving was a rather challenging adventure since near our resort, it was quite common to encounter potholes as big as a bathtub! However, the further away we got, the better the roads became.
I had one pizza destination in mind that was in the city of Tamarindo where we planned to end our day’s journey for dinner. However, on our trip back south in the late afternoon, I made an on-the-spot decision to pull into Mama Mia Pizzeria, a place I had spotted that morning as we headed in the other direction. I’m glad I did since we needed to get home before dark, and I would miss my opportunity in Tamarindo. Also, the pizza at Mama Mia turned out to be quite a special and unique treat.
Mama Mia was located at the end of a small old shopping center. While the outdoor thatched-roof covered tables gave it a rather beachy look, the place actually sits just off the rather busy main road. Nonetheless, it was a nice comfortable place with plenty of seating on the ground level and what also appeared to be an upstairs room.
Mrs. Pie and I were the lone customers at this slow hour. There was no pizza siting out getting stale and what we would next witness would be the masterful execution of a delicious slice of pizza, made as if we were the most important customers ever to walk through Mama Mia’s door.
To begin with, there were not any slices listed on the menu, just small and large, and it was called “Margherita.” However, I got a “yes” when I asked the pizzaiolo about slices and he then proceeded to create one by first crafting a wedge of a foundation out of a full par-baked crust. He then proceeded to grade some cheese and then layered it along with some tomato pieces on top and there was a slice in the making. At the end of the process, he sprinkled some basil, salt, and a squirt of olive oil on top.
It then took quite a while to cook in a regular-looking pizza oven while Mrs. Pie and I took a welcome respite in the empty dining room. We enjoyed the open-air breeze and some fresh bottled water while we waited for the slice that he would serve cut in two under the mistaken assumption we’d be sharing it.
Our slice was a small, very pointed sharp triangle and was delivered on a square stone slab. Most notably, as I observed during its creation, the pizza had no “gravy” (i.e. tomato sauce) and just some sliced tomato. The paper-thin crust was also as crisp as could be and stood completely firm when I held it up and crunched when I ate it.
While Mama Mia’s pizza creation was about as untraditional a one that I’ve ever experienced, it’s deliciousness could not be denied. Everything in it was fresh and tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed the most geographically southern slice I’ve ever had. What an enjoyably delightful snack this was. I tasted the love and dedication that went into making it.
As for the cost of this dining adventure, when I asked, “How much?” the reply I got was “A Mil.” Fuzzy about what this meant, I handed over a 1,000 colones bill (US$ 1.67 at the time) and got no change. Quite a bargain I must say for the effort that went into this magnificent creation.
I would sadly make only one more pizza stop in Costa Rica. There I would learn that the style of my Mama Mia slice might be typical of what pizza is like here in this lovely country that everyone should put on their travel, but not necessarily pizza, bucket list.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
Mama Mia Pizzeria
180, Provincia de Guanacaste,
Huacas, Costa Rica