Luis Blasco Madrid


Updated Thursday, February 29, 2024-00:10

Mariano Gargiulo and Vanina Olivera have every 29th day of the Picsa calendar marked in red.

That day does not close.

It's a special day


It's gnocchi day on the 29th. "It's a day of a lot of energy, even though it's a lot of work," Vanina says with a soft Argentine accent.

This pizzeria on Ponzano


delivers hundreds of pan pizzas (thick dough, fermented for 48 hours and cooked in a wood-fired oven) the rest of the month, but when the calendar reaches the 29th, and especially in a leap year, the spotlight goes to This dish has an Italian-Argentine tradition, but has spread to other countries in the southern cone such as Uruguay or Chile.

Mariano, Vanina and Vittorio

, one of their two children, have been making them uninterruptedly since 2015 every month of the year, even when it is not a leap year, when they cook them on the 28th. "People don't want to go without them for a month," Mariano clarifies.

Vanina is in charge of telling new customers where this


comes from .

"There are two theories," she explains.

One linked to a saint and a pilgrimage and another linked to the lack of money of the Italian immigrants who arrived in Argentina.

In both cases, the gnocchi managed to satisfy hunger while being nutritious.

The story is completed by putting a bill or coin under the plate.

"To attract good fortune," explains


, who invites diners not to skip this step.

Mariano, formerly of


, has been at Picsa since 2014, a "pizzeria with a restaurant vision."

Argentine to the core, he has clear memories linked to gnocchi in his country.

"My grandmother made them every Sunday," he recalls, "and I was in the kitchen watching her cook them."

And if he went out to eat, Mariano "always ordered them at restaurants."

Just a year after opening Picsa, Mariano and Vanina introduced them to the pizzeria.

But with a clear premise.

Only the

29th of each month


"They ask us to have them on the menu and they can eat them another day," says Mariano, "but it's not funny to do it on another date."

During the first years they combined gnocchi with pizzas.

"We sold about 30 portions or so," Mariano recalls as he feeds the wood oven.

But in 2017, after appearing on the

social media

profile of a famous chef, things took off.

"We go from 30 to 100 servings and if it's the weekend we can reach more than 120," he explains.

On the 29th, only gnocchi is eaten, although some diners complete it with a pizza.

A hearty 250 gram dish accompanied by a sauce that

changes every month


In February it is free-range chicken, death's trumpet mushrooms, and wild asparagus.

The previous month, leg roasted for hours in the oven.

A plate of freshly made gnocchi.LB

Mariano makes them all by hand.

"I use 20 kilos of

potatoes, salt, egg and flour

," he lists.

He calculates the amount of flour by eye, pouring the gnocchi into water to see if they are done.

On the 28th, spend between three and four hours

kneading, stretching and cutting

the gnocchi, which are generous in size.

The sauce, meanwhile, has been simmering for a long time in a gigantic pot of more than 20 liters.

The dish is finished in the

wood-fired oven

with a lively fire that browns the generous portion of cheese that Mariano sprinkles on top.

To accompany, homemade bread made with the sourdough that "sleeps" on a shelf, or pieces of pizza cut into breadsticks.

"I love making bread," she confesses.

"Everything is homemade, we like to make everything that comes to the tables," says Mariano, who worked as a cook in the United States and Mallorca before arriving in the capital in 2010.

Annual reservations

After the pandemic they can only be consumed if

you reserve

a table for the 29th. With one morning shift and two at night if it falls on a weekday and two for lunch and two for dinner if it is a weekend, Picsa's oven can reach up to comes out 130 servings.

"On the 29th we arrived at 10:30 in the morning and left almost at 1:00," explains Mariano.

"It's a very nice day," adds Vanina.

The clientele, almost all Spanish, but with a small Argentine parish, reserve well in advance so as not to run out of their portion.

"Some even reserve all 29 of the year," explains Mariano.

For March 29, for example, they already have

30 reservations


The fame of the dish has been transmitted thanks to "friends" and "

word of mouth

", the "best way" for people to know you.

The gnocchi can only be eaten at the premises, they are not available to take away.

"I don't control how they get home with delivery," explains Mariano, and the care with which he makes them can be stained by a service that you don't know how to treat the product.

In the pizzeria, bright and decorated with white tiles and wood, you can have it with a glass of wine - "I only serve natural wines," Mariano clarifies -, or a craft beer.

For dessert, an egg flan with dulce de leche or a panacotta.

A sweet sample of this small Argentine corner.