By Rick Hynum

Guatemala City might seem an unlikely place to find wildly artisanal pizza, but Chef Mariano Codoñer opened Terra Nostra in 2018 with one goal in mind: to shake up a staid culinary scene in an ancient city that dates back to 1,500 B.C.—roughly 750 years before the founding of Rome.

“I have always believed that cooking is an art and that flavors are an interpretation of experience,” Codoñer said. “I set out to take it to a very traditional public, with [bold] flavors and challenging colors.”

“One of my recipes includes oregano and rosemary as part of the ingredients for the dough,” he noted. “Normally, all year round I use other ingredients [in the dough], such as beets, basil, tomato paste, blue spirulina, pumpkin, coffee, etc. This is part of giving our customers an experience, from the dough to the toppings of the pizza.”

Take his Arrachera Pizza, for example. The dough is flavored with oregano and made with a 24-hour-fermented sourdough poolish. “Our percentage of hydration goes around 65% to 67% so the edge can be malleable,” he says.

this photo shows a close-up view of the braided twists of a pizza filled with a chipotle cream sauce

The Arrachera Pizza / Terra Nostra

And it’s the edges of Codoñer’s crust that sets the Arrachera Pizza—and many of Terra Nostra’s other pies—apart. Each twist of the braided crust oozes with a peppery chipotle cream sauce that makes every last bite a spicy delight. It’s topped with beef, arrachera sauce, roasted sweet corn and mini mustard sprouts. Another pie on the menu (pictured at the top of this page) features an almost pinkish dough made with beets and topped with a garlic confit with orange, spiced sausage and Parmesan.

“At this moment, we have three different kinds of filled crust—cream cheese and catupiry cheese; chipotle made with Guatemalan chilies; and pesto and ricotta cheese,” Codoñer said. “I try to incorporate different native ingredients and present the dishes with technique and color.”

Related: Turkish delights: A land of fairy chimneys and minced meat pides

this is a side view of a pasta that's a purplish color sitting on a bed of chopped pistachios

Terra Nostra

Those vibrant hues shine in Terra Nostra’s pastas as well, including the Purple Pasta, showcasing artisan fettucine with a beetroot cream sauce, dehydrated eggplant and goat cheese, all on a bed of chopped pistachios.

Next for Codoñer: He will be traveling to Washington, D.C. next month on a fellows scholarship with IREX, a global development and education organization. In that program, he hopes to learn how to expand his brand and vision and strike a balance between a profitable restaurant business that values its employees and providing equal opportunities.

For more beautiful pizza and pasta photos from Terra Nostra, click here to view the pizzeria’s Instagram account.

Food & Ingredients