Mastropiero, Malasaña: pizza, anchovies, and an existential crisis

Inspired by a review in Naked Madrid, and finding ourselves in Malasaña of a weekday evening, Ruairidh, Markus and I decided on trying out an artisan pizza restaurant. (Markus appeared in my first blog under the sobriquet WasZurHölle – we met studying in Edinburgh and were in Granada at the same time as well. He now works in Brussels saving the EU from imminent destruction (my interpretation of his job).)

A special treat for me was getting the newly-reopened Metro Línea 1 to Malasaña. Change-wise, there are some bright lights in the tunnels now, so you can really reflect on the fact that the whole network really is just a bunch of concrete and metal, and what really is life all about, in this giant underground pit we know as existence? Next stop, death. Luckily I only had a couple of stops to ponder the issue. It would have been a shame to spend all night riding the metro worrying about the futility of life instead of eating pizza and drinking wine.

I took out my frustrations on Ruairidh and Markus, who had innocently suggested meeting for a drink before dinner, with no regard to my existential crisis. We then walked over to Mastropiero, passing at least half a dozen other pizza restaurants on the way (at least there were backups if it all went wrong).

My dad once told me about a time when he was holidaying in Spain in the Olden Days and was sent to get bread and milk; he went into a shop and asked for his messages, before it turned out that it was some old lady’s house. Mastropiero gave me these vibes.

It’s a pleasingly small, kitschy space with a ton of posters and adverts on the walls, and high tables and chairs. An abuela was running the show, commanding an unseen presence in the kitchen and handing out food and drinks to customers from behind the bar.

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She’ll make sure that you wash your hands before eating and remember to call your mother

A bottle of house wine was 9€ and did the job perfectly. And, unlike Spain ever in general, we got a ton of tap water without asking in big ceramic jugs to help wash down all the anchovies (hold your horses, I’ll get there!).

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The pizzas we chose came passed over the counter by abuela before too long (although what does time mean anymore, in the tunnel of doom?). There are loads to choose between, and two sizes (small is 12 – 13 € and a large is like 25 €).

Mine was tomato, mozzarella, ham, boiled egg, green olives, and anchovies. It was very tasty, although I will confess to childishly picking the anchovies off when after a couple of slices they got a bit too much. The pizza dough itself was really nice, and there wasn’t a dual carriageway’s worth of crust either.

If you remember that I own like two pieces of kitchen equipment, it makes sense that I felt at home in Mastropiero due to their lack of crockery (you eat your pizza with the aid of cardboard wedges and a ton of paper napkins). This isn’t for everybody, and for somebody like me who eats most of their food in transit from tin foil (tiny violins in the background) I like to have a plate every now and then.

Post-pizza, after a suitable pause, our abuela passed over the counter, adorably, slices of chocolate fudge cake with dulce de leche, on the house. Actually, that came on a plate, now I think about it.

It ain’t fancy, it doesn’t have (many) plates (or a card machine, while I remember), and you could argue that it’s quite pricey. But the pizza is pretty top and a lot nicer than what you can get from a Telepizza or one of those pay-per-slice places. And moreover it’s cosy and imaginative. Head there with your pals, and invite the guy who likes anchovies.

Address: Calle San Vicente Ferrer, 36 (Tribunal Metro, the beloved reopened Línea 1).

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