Fuego y Lena



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La Fulana

I never tire of exploring La Paz and see what small restaurants I can find which are run by their owners. Mexicans, Americans, Europeans; it does not matter. It is always the best places to eat. I like the idea of supporting those small entrepreneurs directly. They are the backbone of the local economy.

I only review places where I have been before, where they make a great effort at excellence and are worthy of our support. If you own a restaurant that has never been reviewed by me, there are 3 reasons why:

I have been there multiple times and it has consistently been a negative experience for one reason or another.

I have not had the time to get to you yet.

I don’t know about you.

There is another category of restaurants where the food is tasty indeed but these places are so bare bones that they fall into the domain where lurks Four Buck Chuck. He does not mind sitting on a dusty sidewalk in the sweltering heat licking sauce off his fingers while chugging a beer.  We will happily let him navigate those rustic establishments for patrons on an extreme thin budget who boldly gamble on their goat-like stomachs.

This time I chose to talk about Fuego y Leña on Allende between Madero and Revolucion. It is in the former location of an infamous establishment who has since moved to the Malecon. The place is unrecognizable! It is beautiful, serene and clean. The furniture and furnishings are almost all made out of recycled materials. Tinted wood from pallets and spools, glass jars, recycled fruit boxes hide speakers, and they propagate all their beautiful plants. They are all hardy succulents planted in recycled plastic bottles. The sign by the kitchen is a black board that was painted on an old door.  All tastefully done. You can tell a lot of love and hard work went into this space.

It is owned by Susana & Emanuele who are from Genova, Italy. They are escapees from the European system. Tired of the taxes and the rat race, they came to Mexico 11 years ago. Emanuele was a pizzaiolo in Genova. It was his idea to leave and do something different, so Susanna followed him on an adventure. They immediately fell in love with Mexico. They spent some time in Queretaro, Huatulco, Guadalajara, Costa Alegre and finally La Paz. They came to La Paz on vacation and fell in love with the desert and its surreal scenery.

They realized that they really preferred less spoiled, natural surroundings compared to the bigger city. They thought it would be a better place for their adorable daughter to grow up. They have been in La Paz for 8 months now.

Their daughter Yatzil (means our great love in Maya) was born in Queretaro. She is a permanent fixture at the restaurant, sharp cookie that one and cute as a bug! It is great to see the young ones in their parent’s place of business, I feel that it is the best business education one can receive. They understand where money comes from!

On their menu, they feature 32 pizzas! Emanuele has an Italian passport. In my book, a requirement to cook authentic Italian food!

The pizzas come in one size only 36cm (a little bit over 14”) good for 2 people. From $75 to $150 pesos. Calzones for $140 pesos. Huge things.

They use slow risen hand made dough, high protein flour, Italian tomatoes, italian style mozzarella and not some obscure chewy, greasy cheese like a lot of places do. NO mayonesa on everything!  Thank God! What is the local fascination with putting mayonnaise or crema on EVERYTHING???

The pizza is delicious with a light crispy crust and great flavor from the wood burning oven. Emanuele uses a secret combination of wood, some of it Palo Colorado which gives low smoke and packs high heat.

The pizza with Arugula is my favorite. It is a simple tomato and cheese pizza topped with fresh organic arugula when it comes out of the oven. Less is more with pizza in my opinion.

Susanna makes a chili infused olive oil like they do in Italy with local chile de arbol. They do not heat it up, just cold infusing. It becomes this sweet, spicy heavenly oil. Great on the pizza! Ask for it when you go eat there.

On the menu you will also find 7 burgers made with beef from Sonora. HUGE burgers! $99 to $109 pesos.

There are 3 salads. $89 pesos each, a great deal. They are a good size all home made. No bottle dressing served here. Don’t even ask for it.

The Caprese is made with real mozzarella NOT queso panela. Other restaurants too often revert to this trickery to save money! It is like using fake chocolate vs. real chocolate. Pleeaase!

Rib lovers, keep an eye out, they sometimes have ribs. The tender beef ribs come with a home made tangy red sauce.

There are sweets and sides which I will have to go back to further investigate.

They have a full bar license!

The wine selection is bare but of decent quality, Vino Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc from Concha y Toro. I hope they add some more wine choices when the busy season kicks in.

They serve beer from the Pacifico family.

While we were there, 2 Italian expats came by to order pizza to go…I smile to myself. Italians are notoriously picky eaters and they always know where to go…

Fuego y Leña

Pizza Artesanal

Calle Allende #169, La Paz 26000, México

612 111 24 89

fuegoylena@hotmail.com

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