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Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats

The sense of smell, more than any of our other senses, influences our ability to recall past events and experience. From among the five senses, fragrance is considered the most potent medium for conjuring up memories. True enough, some of the most enduring sensory memories of my years in the Boston area are reawakened thanks to the amazing aromas that greet me each time I visit Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats on San Mateo. It is with increased rarity that you find an authentic Italian deli which greets you at the door with the incomparable aroma of pastas, meatballs or sausages simmering in a perfect marriage of tomato sauce, garlic, basil and oregano.  It’s also rare to find an Italian kitchen equally practiced at preparing outstanding pasta dishes and Italian meats.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats is then indeed an anachronism because it does capture you before the door with wafting odoriferous emanations that bid you welcome and which have a Pavlovian effect on your taste buds.  The Camuglia family–John, Jerry and Johnny–has owned and operated this memory triggering deli since 1970, in the process creating new and wonderful memories for the legions of patrons who frequent their deli.

Tully’s “dining room”

Tully’s is ensconced in a time-worn strip mall on San Mateo, but could easily pass for an Italian deli in Soprano country, upstate New Jersey or my former home outside of Boston.  Shelves are stocked with large and small cans and jars of various Italian groceries as well as domestic and imported olive oils and specialty pastas.  Prominent on those shelves are jars of Tully’s house-made marinara sauces, source of those oh-so-enticing memory enticing aromas.

A freezer showcases some of Tully’s frozen entrees such as meatballs, chicken marsala, chicken parmesan, chicken picatta and some of the city’s very best lasagna. The freezer also displays such tantalizing treasures as veal, lamb and even rabbit. It’s hard to believe that when the Camuglias assumed ownership of Tully’s, it was solely a meat market.  In its annual food and wine issue for 2011, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Tully’s a “Hot Plate Award” as the “Hot Take Home” deli Albuquerque can’t live without.

The Italian Sausage Sub

The Italian Sausage Sub

In the spirit and tradition of many East Coast Italian delis, Tully’s also features imported and domestic meats and cheeses, showcasing Boar’s Head brand products.  Boar’s Head prides itself in artisanal meats and cheeses produced in time-honored old-world methods.  Tully’s honors those methods by making their own hot and sweet Italian sausages, all ground from 100-percent pork enhanced with traditional spices and herbs.  Sausages range from the simple to the sublime–real gourmet sausages that will enhance any meal.

Tully’s take-out business is robust and the heart of the operation, but many savvy patrons also have a filling and delicious lunch at their favorite deli before heading home with their treasures.  At the counter, they encounter a menu which just might be the envy of every sandwich shop in town, a menu featuring an array of sensational sandwiches, some named for glitterati of Italian heritage.  Who can refuse an Al Pacino (capocollo ham, Genoa salami, provolone and Italian dressing) or a Sinatra, sure to hit the right note with imported Parma prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, lettuce and tomato on a homemade roll?

Meat Ball Subs

There are eighteen sandwiches on the menu, more than half of which are available at half-sub size.  The subs which require heating are generally not available at half-sub size.  Available toppers include sliced black olives, sliced pickles, sliced banana peppers, tapenade, guacamole and bacon.  Sandwiches are about a dollar south of ten dollars and are accompanied by a cup of potato salad or a bag of potato chips.

31 December 2008: While the cold meat sandwiches entice with a siren-like call, my Boston-based beckoning is often for sub sandwiches engorged with tomato sauce and seasoning adorned meatballs or sausage, the type of sub of which I consumed by the boatload in Boston. The Italian Sausage Sub and the Meat Ball Sub call loudest.  The Sausage Sub features homemade Italian sausage “cooked in mom’s marinara sauce with melted mozzarella on a homemade roll.”  This is a humongous sandwich, easily big enough for two to share (not that you’d want to).  It’s also a messy sandwich which will redden your fingers and drip onto your clothing if you’re not careful.  Ditto for the Meat Ball Sub, six homemade meatballs nestled in a homemade sandwich roll and slathered with marinara sauce with melted mozzarella.  The meat balls are an amalgam of beef and pork with just enough filler to bind them.  They’re seasoned with garlic and oregano in just the right amount.

The Sicilian (For All You Good Sicilian Boys): Mortadella, Capocolla Ham, Domestic Prosciutto, Provolone and Italian Dressing on a homemade roll

31 December 2008: When the menu at an Italian deli reads “sausage,” you don’t always know what to expect.  In some cases, a sausage sandwich features sliced links and in others, the sausage is ground almost like hamburger.  At Tully’s, the sausage (at least on the sub) is reminiscent of breaded chicken Parmesan.  It’s semi-flat and lightly breaded, but beneath that breading and under that marinara is a well-seasoned sausage that’s flavorful, filling and fabulous.  The potato salad is flecked with red peppers and pickles and isn’t dripping in salad cream as some potato salad seems to be.  Alas, cup-size amounts to about three or four spoons full.  You’ll want more.

13 October 2012: From among the cold subs listed on both the “house specialties” and “traditional favorites” sections of the menu, one of the best is The Sicilian (for all you good Sicilian Boys).  That, by the way, is a Tully’s caption.  All sandwiches have clever captions.  The Sicilian is made with mortadella (an Italian cured sausage seasoned with pepper and garlic), capacolla ham (a pork-derived cured ham), domestic prosciutto, provolone and Italian dressing on a homemade roll.  The Italian dressing is applied generously, rendering the sandwich moist on a bread roll which absorbs it well.

The “Joe DiMaggio”

23 September 2015: In Simon & Garfunkle’s 1968 number one hit Mrs Robinson, the American folk rock duo asked the puissant question “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”  The lyrics both perplexed and bothered The Yankee Clipper until a chance meeting with Paul Simon.  Simon explained the lyrics were sincerely intended as flattery and essentially were intended to ask “where have all the heroes gone.”  A better answer to the question might be “Joe DiMaggio is alive, well and delicious at Tully’s.” 

The Joe DiMaggio is an Italian sub described by my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, as “the absolute best Italian Sub I have ever had.”  A spry septuagenarian with the youthful vigor of a twenty-something, Larry knows a thing or a million about subs.  So do I.  This is an outstanding mountain of a sandwich (pastrami, ham, Genoa salami, Provolone, black olives, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and Italian dressing stacked on a whole or half sub roll).  The designer of this delicious deli sandwich deserves a raise.  It’s not enough that the Joe DiMaggio is packed with ingredients.  Those ingredients go together as well as milk and cookies or chocolate and…chocolate.

31 December 2008: On lazy days when you don’t want to cook or perhaps when you want to spoil yourself, let pasta pamper you.  Pick up a lasagna from Tully’s freezer.  It’s layers and layers of pasta sandwiching pork and beef all slathered with marinara sauce and topped with two melted cheeses and several complementary spices.  This is lasagna the way it’s made in some Boston area restaurants, those specializing in red meat sauces.  It’s lasagna which imbues your kitchen with those memory inducing aromas you’ll treasure. 

There are few things in life more satisfying than a sandwich at Tully’s, but it’s possible to improve on your Tully’s experience by walking a few feet south to Saratori’s Di Tully, an Italian pastry shop that will remind East Coast transplants of Italian pastry shops in New York.

Tully’s Italian Deli & Meats
1425-A San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 255-5370
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 23 September 2015
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Lasagna, Sausage Sub, Potato Salad, The Sicilian, Meat Ball Sub, The Joe DiMaggio

Tully's Italian Deli & Meats on Urbanspoon

Frost Gelato – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Frost Gelato in Uptown

“I believe gelato is meant to be treated as medicine and taken daily as a prescription.
~Author: Betsy Brandt

If you’ve never associated such words as searing, stifling, sweltering, sultry, sticky and sizzling with Italy, you probably haven’t been there during a summer heat wave.  During the day, cobbled streets heat up like a pizza oven, radiating heat even through the night.   Worse, in much of Italy air conditioning is a rare luxury, especially by American standards.  Even at five-star luxury accommodations you probably won’t be able to drop the temperature down to the cool 70-degrees you enjoy at home.

Summer’s heat in Italy is probably why Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods Delicious Destinations program described gelato as “Italy’s air conditioning,” a phrase coined by Faith Willinger in 1996.  More specifically, she called gelato “oral air-conditioning, the only food that Italians will eat on the street.” Aside from its cooling properties, both Zimmern and Willinger wax poetic about the sheer deliciousness of the cool, creamy, refreshing treat Italians have perfected.

Long lines are typical

Tucson natives and lifelong friends Stephen Ochoa and Jeff Kaiserman found out just how hot Italy can be when visiting Lo Stivale, the boot-shaped nation.  Now, when Tucson natives complain about the heat, you can take it to the bank that it’s hot (Tucson, after all, experiences more than 300 sunny days per year with triple-digit temperatures very common in the summer).  They found relief at a gelateria in Rome, the first of several they visited while traveling through different towns across Italy.  To say they were hooked is an understatement and it wasn’t solely the cooling sensation that enthralled them.  They had never before experienced such addictive deliciousness. 

Returning home, they figured out the only way to recapture the flavors, textures and cooling effects of the gelato with which they had become besotted was to make it themselves.    After completing a rigorous training program at Gelato University in North Carolina, they made their first batch of gelato, the taste of which transported them back to Italy.  Months of planning and importing equipment (including batch freezers and pasteurizers) and products from Italy ensued before they launched Frost Gelato in 2005.

Large Gelato Trio:  Seasalt Caramel, Alpencaramel, Oreo

By 2009, Tucson’s hottest taste sensation had gone national, offering franchising opportunities to eager entrepreneurs.  Albuquerque’s first Frost Gelato Shoppe launched in November, 2013 at  the ABQ Uptown development.  Located in a 1,200 square-foot store west of Marcello’s Chophouse, the store follows corporate look and feel and recipe templates designed to maintain brand integrity and consistency.  Ostensibly, you can visit a Frost Gelato Shoppe at any franchised location and experience the same lively ambiance and authentic gelato flavors you’d find at the original. 

Albuquerque in the summer is probably more comparable to Tucson than it is to Italy, making Frost Gelato an excellent fit.  Since its wintry launch, the tiny store offering huge flavors has been one of the most delicious reasons to visit the ABQ Uptown.  As at the original, all gelato ingredients save for milk and sugar are imported from Italy.  Offering more than fifty gelato flavors as well as twenty-some flavors of sorbet, Frost also sells made-to-order gelato cakes, cold beverages and hot chocolate.

Large Gelato Trio: Glandjla, Marble Black Cherry, Tiramisu

Frankly, had it not been for Daniela Bouneou, the effervescent co-owner of the transformative Italian gem Torinos @ Home, we might not have visited Frost Gelato.  Daniela’s effusive evangelization, bordering on heart-felt passion, convinced us we need to visit…and soon.  She grew up in Italy and knows a thing or two about gelato, so her gelato cred is strong.  We quickly came to the realization that our inaugural visit was long overdue and that we may just have to move to the Uptown area so we can be closer to this fabulous frosty enterprise. 

Frost Gelato is all it Daniela said it was and more.  Not surprisingly her favorite flavor (Gianduja: chocolate with hazelnut) became my early favorite.  It’s so good I immediately regretted ordering a large gelato trio, especially when the quantity of the other flavors (marble black cherry and tiramisu) far exceeded the amount of Gianduja.  I felt simultaneously cheated and thrilled to have been introduced to a wonderful new flavor sensation.   The ground hazelnuts impart a delightful textural contrast and nutty-savory flavor to rich Italian milk chocolate.  It’s a revelation and a sheer pleasure! 

My Kim and I shared six flavors (hers were Seasalt Caramel, Alpencaramel, Oreo).  While we enjoyed them all thoroughly, for me our inaugural visit will most be remembered for the introduction to a magnificent new flavor.  Future visits will likely introduce us to even more new taste sensations.  We look forward to that!

Frost: A Gelato Shop
2201 Q Street, Suite 9A
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 883-2522
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 7 September 2015
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Gianduia (Chocolate with Hazelnut), Marble Black Cherry, Tiramisu, Seasalt Caramel, Alpencaramel, Oreo

Frost Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pop Fizz – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pop Fizz on the National Hispanic Cultural Center

The geriatrically advanced among us who grew up during the golden age (1950s through the 1970s) of the “jingle” were constantly bombarded with earworm-inducing singing commercials, those catchy and memorable short tunes used to convey advertising slogans.  We couldn’t help but sing along, often to the annoyance of our parents.  When, for example, the Garduño family visited the big city (Taos), the kids would belt out the familiar jingle “Let’s all go to A&W.  Food’s more fun at A&W. Have a mug of root beer, or maybe two or three.”  Our dissonant din rarely persuaded our parents to take us to A&W.  More often than not, we were ferried back to Peñasco for a home-cooked meal.

Researchers suggest that women may be even more susceptible to earworms than men.  That research was borne out when I suggested to my Kim that we visit Pop Fizz for lunch.  Instead of asking what kind of food Pop Fizz serves as she usually does when I suggest a heretofore untried restaurant, she began singing “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”  That jingle, as we seasoned citizens all recognize, once touted the heartburn healing properties of Alka Seltzer, an effervescent antacid still in use today.

The colorful ambiance of a delightful eatery

The name “Pop Fizz” obviously has nothing to do with effervescence or with Alka Seltzer.  The “Pop” portion of the name is short for “Popsicle” while “Fizz” represents the sound made when you open the carbonated beverages available on the premises.  Learning the reason for the name did nothing to mitigate my Kim’s singing of the jingle (now I know how my parents felt), but our inaugural visit went a long way toward helping us understand just why Pop Fizz has become such a phenomenon. 

Some of my more entrepreneurial readers probably never heard about Pop Fizz until it was featured in Inc ., a monthly American publication focused on growing companies.  Inc. doesn’t focus solely on Fortune 500 companies. It’s got a soft spot for the backbone of American business, the traditional mom-and-pop operation such as Pop Fizz, a humble homegrown, family owned and operated gem which has been winning over savvy Duke City diners since day one.

Sonoran Hot Dog with what is left of Agua Fresca de Sandia (Watermelon Fresh Water)

Day one transpired on a balmy summer day in 2013 when brothers Lorenzo and Carlos Alvarez and their father Rafael launched their own version of relief, in this case relief from hot, sunny summer days in the Duke City.  Relief came in the form of homemade paletas (popsicles) made from all-natural, real fruits and cream as well as organic cane sugar (absolutely no high fructose corn syrup).  Also available were popular Mexican favorites such as aguas frescas, ice cream and a delicious innovation they called ice cream tacos. Duke City denizens clamoring for relief converged upon the Lilliputian storefront on Bridge Boulevard. 

The Alvarado family didn’t let grass grow under their feet before relocating their operation to the National Hispanic Cultural Center not quite two years later.  Their new digs are more capacious and include an uncovered patio with picnic tables.  With more spacious accommodations and an expansive industrial kitchen, the family has also been able to expand their menu, now offering a number of savory dishes such as Frito pie, several hot sandwiches and even a Sonoran hot dog.

Mint Chip Ice Cream Taco

The Sonoran hot dog has been referred to as the “quintessential food of Tucson.”  While it has achieved cult status throughout Arizona, it has only recently begun making significant inroads in the Land of Enchantment.  There are even more versions of this savory, smoky treat than it has ingredients.  The version at Pop Fizz is constructed from an all-beef hot dog, avocado, onion, chipotle mayo, cheese, bacon and salsa verde nestled in a bolillo bun.  It’s as delicious as it is messy with spillage guaranteed.  The bolillo bun is pillowy soft and slightly sweet, a nice complement to the smokiness of the hot dog and the piquancy of the salsa verde. 

Tacos are an excellent accompaniment to the Sonoran hot dog, but not the savory, meat-filled tacos of which you might be thinking.  Ice cream tacos, a Pop Fizz specialty are the perfect sweet contrast to the savory-smokiness of the hot dog.  The taco “shell” is a thin waffle shaped very much like a taco.  It is stuffed with dense, sweet, delicious ice cream and topped with chocolate.  We can vouch for the deliciousness of the mint chip, pecan and chocolate ice cream tacos.  The ice cream isn’t soft, creamy and custard-like, but dense and full-bodied.  The mint chip is especially addictive.

Paleta de Pina Y Habanero (Pineapple and Habanero)

While it’s often advised that in Mexico one should not drink the water, you’re also well advised to partake of as many paletas as you can.  Paletas are premium frozen delicacies made with real fruit and cream.  Typically proffered by street vendors with pushcarts, paletas offer a refreshing respite from sweltering summer days, but they’re wonderful any time of year.  Paletas are available in an amazing range of flavors including such exotic offering as pina and Habanero (pineapple and Habanero), a paleta that packs a punch.  It’s got more piquancy than the chile at far too many New Mexican restaurants, but it’s even more delicious than it is piquant. 

While Pop Fizz may have started as a neighborhood eatery, it’s garnered a reputation that far exceeds its South Valley home.  Savvy diners trek from far and wide to partake of cold treats that will warm your heart.

Pop Fizz
1701 4th Street, S.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 695-1180
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 5 September 2015
1st VISIT: 4 September 2015
BEST BET: Paleta de Pina Y Habanero, Agua Fresca de Sandia, Sonoran Hot Dog, Mint Chip Taco, Pecan Taco, Chocolate Taco, Watermelon Paleta, Raspberry Paleta

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