I visited Malandrino through a process of triangulation; first I googled 'Italian pizza Valparaiso .cl', and then I read the first place reviewed on tripadvisor. Sure, there are often some pretty perfunctory reviews on here, but one that stood out was from a couple from my native Australia who dismissed the food as just OK and then complained that the pizzaiole were talking about what they would like to do to their customers' daughter in Castillian, not knowing that the reviewers understood them. So of course I had to go there - to see whether the pizzas were just OK, or whether the ribaldry had clouded the integrity of judgment of the reviewers.
Well, the pizzas are very close to excellent. Good oven, good crust. Everything is good about them (even the inevitably droopy eventide rocquette on the rucola - leafy vegetables don't last long looks-wise in urban Chile due to poor transportation and pollution, but also because the produce isn't as genetically engineered as in the proper first world - they do tend to taste better, though). Everything is good except for one thing. After doing their best with some admittedly pre-cut prosciutto (most likely actually the serrano with which the market is flooded with Spain in the doldrums), for some reason they sprinkled on silly pre-grated pseudo-mozzarella. Come on loverboys, get some nice soft cheese... wet mozzarella, or bocconcini, or fior di latte, I don't really care which. How hard can it be? It's not that hard to make a passable version, Chileans. That awful plastic stuff won't do.
All this said, it's pretty good, and I thought the staff were nice. Not sure if I'd betroth my daughter to them, but they're pizza cooks keeping their chins up on very low pay in a tourist town. And working with worse cheese than they deserve. Please, proprietors, source some better cheese. It'd probably add 300 pesos to the cost of a pizza and make a world of difference. And cooks, you never know where a touch of the hidalgo will get you with the gringos.
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