Empanada Queen in Pizza Roma
4-4100 Marlborough Drive NE
Original post below:
Looking at the sign, one might think this is a post about pizza. And while I love pie, and can wax poetic regarding great pizza for hours on end (almost as long as I ramble about sushi), this post is not about pizza. This is about a small business that is run out of a pizzeria – as a very small sign in the window denotes. It’s called Empanada Queen. Being foodosophy readers, Im sure you can guess what they serve :)
Pizza Roma is located in a small stripmall NE of Marlborough Mall. They won some award a few years ago for top 25 pizza in Calgary. I saw the article on the wall, but it wasn’t memorable. It’s like seeing “as seen in Spiderman 2″ on the wall of Joe’s pizza in the village. Unless you see it 4 or 5 times, you never remember it. Their pizza looks reasonable, but their true treasure is their Chilean food. Often, Chilean food doesn’t get the same kind of recognition that their Argentinian and Peruvian neighbours get, but I’ve always found it to be fresh, honest, and fairly tasty.
Running concurrently out of the same address as Pizza Roma, Empanada Queen serves up, beyond Empanadas, a variety of other dishes that are common “fast food” in Chile. Bistec a lo Pobre, Pastel de Choclo, Humitas, Completos(!!!) and Chacareros. While i had a steady died of bistec a lo pobre and chacarero when I was in Chile, the dish I truly miss is the empanada.
Empanadas are a fairly ubiquitous food to South and Central America, a result of the Spanish influence in the region. However, over time, regional differences have developed. Chilean empanadas typically come in two basic forms -the baked, filled with a meat mixture, and the fried, filled with cheese. With Empanada Queen, we ordered a baked chicken, a fried cheese, and a fried cheese and shrimp. Ground beef, sliced beef, spinach, spicy chicken and beef were also available in the baked variety.
The baked empanadas are definitely larger than their fried cousins. With a nice, doughy bread shell baked to a nice golden brown, at Empanada Queen, they are stuffed with pino – a meat, onion, and miscellaneous mixture. In this case, chicken. This filling, often stuffed with eggs and olives, is similar (yet tastier) than the its Bolivian cousin, the saltena, and the version at Empanada Queen is no different. Priced at ~$4.50, it’s an affordable light lunch.
The fried empanadas are the real deal, and come in two sizes. Made fresh to order, I watched them roll out the dough, stuff it with cheese (or cheese and shrimp in the case of the second one), and then drop it in the fryer. They come out hot, with a nice crisp flaky shell and salty, gooey cheese. Both the cheese, and shrimp with cheese were excellent, but the shrimp failed to add much. Stick with plain cheese. At $1.75 and $2.00 respectively, these are excellent value.
Empanadas wouldnt be complete without a little aji – and like everything else, it’s homemade. A tasty compliment, chalk full of flavour thought not very hot.
Looking back at the experience, it only makes sense that a pizzeria is a logical pairing for empanadas. After all, fresh dough, and good fresh cheese are two key ingredients to both. The empanadas at Empanada Queen are not only the real deal, but excellent, and extremely affordable. If you’re craving something a bit different, give them a shot. And if you decide to try the pizza – let us know. Im betting it’s quite good as well.