OG PapaFern: Bringing Argentinian Pizza to NYC
Argentinian pizza is making its way to NYC, thanks to Argentian born-NYC raised maestro pizzero, OG PapaFern. He hopes to popularize Fugazzeta, an Argentian staple that he grew up loving.
Fugazzeta is Argentinian pizza similar to a traditional pie, but with a thick crust and topped with onions and cheese. The name “fugazzeta” comes from a combination of the Italian word “fugassa,” which means focaccia bread, and “cibuletta,” which means green onions in Italian.
Early memories of Argentina for PapaFern include the time spent at his father’s restaurant, Traka Traka, where Fugazzeta and Empanadas were sold in the same vicinity. You may be asking yourself How did they get Italian food to Argentina? Or What do Argentians know about pizza?
In the late 19th and early 20th Century, Italians flocked to Argentina in search of economic opportunities. Leaving behind a country riddled with poverty and taxation Italians were able to thrive in Argentina. The scarcity of food in Italy led immigrants in Argentina to create exaggerated versions of their traditional meals. Pizza is one of them. Fugazzeta has a lot of dough, a lot of cheese, and a lot of toppings.
In the hands of OG PapaFern, Fugazzeta has had the opportunity of immigrating to America. Initially, he created his pies only for friends and family. Attending a pizza event, curious about Ooni ovens, Fern ran into Nicole of Last Dragon Pizza who introduced him to Nino, a seasoned pizzeria owner, who was skeptical to try a pizza with large amounts of onions on it. After indulging in the fugazzeta, Nino retracted his previous skepticism and even invited Fern to the NY Pizza Festival to showcase his pizzas alongside him.
Fern was given the opportunity to witness the public reactions to his pies. He was shocked by the general curiosity and love he received from the public. Fern a Maestro Pizzero has continuously innovated Argentian Pizza since then by experimenting with the best ingredients, cold fermentation, and varying flavor palates.
He charged himself with the task of introducing people to the delicacy that is Argentian pizza. For the past three years, he has garnered a reputation on social media for his pop-up shops, involvement in pizza expos, and constant support of charitable organizations. He has also been embraced and encouraged by Felix of Happy Bull Pizza and Serhan of Next Level Pizza. Without the support of all of his pizza colleagues, there may have been no OG PapaFern Fugazzeta.
Additionally, OG PapaFern strives to give back regardless of whether it is voluntary or through donation.
“A lot of my existence is based on helping people,” Fern says.
During Hurricane Sandy, in late 2012, he would ride his scooter to and from Breezy Point, NY. He carried with him boxes filled with supplies. The Maestro Pizzero works with charities like Slice Out Hunger, which fights food insecurity nationwide, and Direct Relief Organization, which provides humanitarian aid following disasters.
Fern’s success in popularizing Fugazzeta shows how food can be a bridge between cultures and bring people together. Be on the lookout for his collab with Nino’s AQ in Astoria as well as other restaurant pop-ups and books in the near future.
“I am very happy to collaborate and do pop-ups with people who want to expand Argentinan Pizza,” Fern cheerfully expressed.
Stay connected with his journey on Instagram @og_papafern.