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Amadeo’s Pizza And Subs – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Amadeo's Pizza & Subs

One of the most exciting times in America’s history was during its Westward expansion when young, unattached men of the time followed the advice of newspaper magnate Horace Greeley and went west in search of opportunity and adventure. Able-bodied young men forged a path through the wilderness to conquer the untamed west and build another pillar in the manifest destiny inspired foundation upon which America now stands.

We felt that sense of adventure when we trekked Westward in search of Amadeo’s Pizza And Subs, a pizzeria heretofore unbeknown to us until we read the comments of “a voice crying out of the wilderness” on the long defunct Albuquerque Tribune’s Food City.  Responding to a call to all pizza paramours, that voice respectfully dissented from popularly preferred pizzerias and cast his lot behind Amadeo’s, a restaurant almost as far West as you can go in Albuquerque and not at all easy to find. Nestled within the confines of a nondescript shopping center, Amadeo’s is named for its founder Amadeo Garcia (a fellow Air Force retiree) and is run by his scions. It’s been around since 1987, but many of us residents north of I-40 who rarely venture south of that interstate divide had never heard of it–our loss.

Carry-Out, Delivery and Dine-In Available at the Amadeo’s on Osuna (across the street from Sandia Prep)

Amadeo’s Pizza and Subs absolutely blew us away during our inaugural visit, reminding me in some ways of the wonderful pizzas of my transitional period between youth and adultery in Massachusetts. A second, third and subsequent visits proved our first impression was spot on. Amadeo’s serves some of the very best pizza in Albuquerque, if not New Mexico! Amadeo’s isn’t much for esthetics and on the day of our inaugural visit, it certainly wasn’t the unmistakable aroma of great pizza that ensnared us because a neighboring business’s sewage back-up problems relegated the restaurant to an odoriferous state. During our subsequent visit, we were treated to the intoxicating aroma of garlic and the olfactory-memory triggering bouquet of baking dough.

A green (maybe even Boston Celtic green) and white checkerboard tiled floor and green booths seemed so contrary to the stereotypical green and red of many self-proclaimed New York style pizzerias (which Amadeo’s is not). A noisy gaming arcade with shoot-em-up sounds emanating from tinny speakers competed with music piped in overhead from equally tinny sounding speakers.  Framed posters of works by Van Gogh and Monet didn’t upscale the ambiance, but it’s obvious from the plaques and trophies on the wall that Amadeo’s is an altruistic enterprise which supports the city’s youth.

Two slices of garlic and green chile pizza

Two slices of garlic and green chile pizza

Fast forward to 2015, eight years after our inaugural visits and no longer do we have to trek westward for an Amadeo’s experience.  The pizza that not that long ago was mostly a secret well kept by its neighbors is now an expansive operation with five locations.  Not all of them offer dine-in services.  Some are strictly carry-out or delivery with catering services available at all locations.  The carry-out business is robust.

Not only has Amadeo’s become a formidable presence in the Duke City, its menu has expanded greatly, too.  It’s a menu replete with appetizers (spicy chicken wings) and specialties (stromboli, calzone), fresh salads, pasta (spaghetti, ziti), sandwiches (prepared on six- or twelve-inch sub rolls or a 4.5-inch Ciabatta bun (Osuna location)) and of course, pizza.  TAmadeo’s makes its dough fresh from scratch daily and prepares each pizza by hand, a painstaking process that results in a better product. They use only 100% mozzarella cheese and make their sauce from scratch in the store. Quality shows. The true test of an outstanding pizza is whether or not it retains its great tastes after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours. Amadeo’s pizza does! It’s as great cold as it is just out of the oven.

Daily Special: Slice of Pepperoni Pizza, Eight Twists and a Medium Drink

The designer pizza of our inaugural visit was a circular masterpiece comprised of Canadian bacon, green chile, garlic and black olives on a crusty canvas slathered by a lively and tangy tomato sauce. The thin, buttery crust is perfect for folding ala New York style. The ingredients are top-notch, especially the roasted garlic cloves and slightly caramelized red onions which gave the pizza a memorable taste (and aftertaste).  Rarely have we ranted as much about the garlic on any pizza.  Its freshness and eye-watering qualities caught our olfactory attention. The green chile isn’t particularly piquant, but it, too, lends a nice, complementary flavor to an outstanding pie. It’s a neon green color and is spread generously on each slice. By the way, if you judge pizza crust by the char around its edges, this one has the right amount to appease any pizza aficionado. 

The pizzeria’s ten specials are a very popular draw for diners either short on time or short on funds.  For well under a ten-spot, you can eat very well.  One of the more filling (and delicious) specials is a one-item slice and eight twists (what some pizzerias call knots).  Second to the memory-inducing flavor of wondrous baked bread, the most prominent flavor on the twists isn’t garlic, but Parmesan.  The twists are terrific on their own, but go even better with Amadeo’s housemade marinara (or you can opt for Ranch dressing).

Unlike the young men of Greeley’s time, you don’t have to brave the unknown in search of your fortune.  Just locate a nearby Amadeo’s and you’ve struck it rich.

Amadeo’s Pizza And Subs
809 89th Street
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 831-9339
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 18 June 2015
# OF VISITS: 4
RATING: 21
COST: $$
BEST BET: The Stomper with garlic, onions, Canadian bacon, green chile and black olives

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Richie B’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Richie B’s on Montgomery and Louisiana

If you’ve ever wondered why New Yorkers fold their pizza slices in half lengthwise (aka the “fold hold”) and if you’ve ever  attributed that practice to Big Apple quirkiness, you owe it to yourself to visit Richie B’s, a New York-style pizzeria on Montgomery and Louisiana.  Now, the Albuquerque metropolitan area has plenty of claimants to New York-style pizza, but can you name a single one in which you’ve actually HAD to utilize the fold hold to eat a slice? New Yorkers have mastered the fold hold because true New York-style pizza is thin-crusted and cut into wide slices (usually wider than your face) which taper down to a perfectly pointed (and invariably “floppy”) bottom.

I’ve seen friends and colleagues employ the fold hold simply to double the amount of pizza they can consume in one bite (then wonder why they finished off their pizza twice as fast). I’ve also seen them utilize “The Travolta” method—layering one slice on top of another and eating both simultaneously—again, to double the amount of pizza in each bite.   I’ve also seen the more “civilized” (or haughty) among us (Mayor di Blasio should be impeached for doing so) use knives and forks on a slice; they’ve obviously forgotten or don’t care that God intended for pizza to be a finger food. NOTE:  If you’re not acquainted with “The Travolta” method, you may not have been paying close attention to the opening sequence of Saturday Night Fever.

The dining room at Richie B’s is studded with New York City memorabilia

At Richie B’s, each slice is so large and so wide that the holding and eating method which makes most sense  is the fold hold. It’s not only the best way to trap the prodigious toppings, gooey cheese and dripping sauce within its crusty confines, it’s also the only way to avoid the mess made by an overloaded pizza on a thin-crusted slice.  At Richie B’s, the slices are very thin, very wide and very overloaded. That’s especially true of the aptly named Supreme, a beauteous behemoth topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, red peppers and olives, all with the sheen of olive oil and garlic.

It’s humanly impossible to pick up, hold and consume the Supreme unless you actually fold it in half lengthwise. For one thing, the only triangle-shaped man-made object that’s larger is the Great Pyramid of Giza. Because of the length and width of each slice coupled with the generosity of ingredients piled on, physical laws dictate that each foldable slice flops, not unlike a fish out of water.  This is the antithesis of the ironing board stiff pizza crust that won’t buckle under a ten-pound weight.  Not even the cornicione, an Italian term for the “lip” or puffy outer edge of the pizza, is stiff.

The Supreme

We’ve established that Richie B’s pizza is long, wide and floppy. That’s a given for many New York-style pizzas. “How does it taste?” you ask. Ann Marie Allen, who called me out on Zomato and recommended I get myself “over here pronto and review this place” says it’s “fantastic and the best pizza I’ve ever had!” Similar rousing endorsements adorn both Zomato and Yelp. My preliminary assessment is that this is a very good pizza, but it’ll take a few more slices to gauge its nuances. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. 

As for its authenticity, Richie B’s is true New York by way of Dothan, Alabama brought to you by an Albuquerque native. That would be Preston Smith who was working as a contractor at Fort Rucker, Alabama near Dothan where he discovered the original Richie B’s and “the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.” He also struck up a friendship with the owner, an entrepreneur-showman whose career path included a ten-year stint portraying Conan the Barbarian at Universal Studios. Before moving back to Albuquerque, Preston purchased the naming rights and recipes. The rest, as the proverbial “they” say, is history. Should Richie B’s do as well as Preston expects, he hopes to expand throughout the Duke City.

Green Chile Philly

To say Preston is passionate about pizza is an understatement. For his venture, he chose a deck oven instead of a conveyor oven. Deck ovens are generally the oven of choice for traditional sit-down pizza restaurants. They require much closer babysitting than conveyor ovens, but tend to distribute heat more evenly and give the pizzaioli greater control over temperature and air flow. It makes a great difference. Preston is also very passionate about Richie B’s “Viper Sauce” which can be used on virtually everything (much like green chile) save for dessert.

Richie B’s menu lists six custom pies available in 18- and 25-inch sizes. Also available are three twelve-inch sub sandwiches, two of which feature Boar’s Head meats. The other is a Philly cheesesteak. Also on hand are a garden house salad and a number of sides (including whole garlic pickles and stuffed cherry peppers) as well as cannoli and New York-style cheesecake. Although not expressly stated on the menu, Hatch green chile (from the Young Guns folks) can be added to virtually anything else on the menu. 

Onion Rngs

It would be audacious and probably laughable (much like Denver declaring its green chile the equal of New Mexico’s) to proclaim Phillys in Albuquerque the equal of or superior to those in Philadelphia, but we’ve got something even the City of Brotherly Love doesn’t have.  Albuquerque adorns its Phillys with green chile, an ingredient which improves everything with which it comes into contact.  Restaurants such as Philly’s N Fries and Davido’s Pizza & More have made Green Chile Phillys an edible art form. 

You won’t find a Green Chile Philly at Richie B’s, but you can certainly request chile on the restaurant’s twelve-inch Philly Cheesesteak (grilled top sirloin, onions, mushrooms and sweet peppers topped with mozzarella and Provolone cheese served with a side of Viper Sauce.  It’s a very good sandwich bringing together ingredients meant to be together.  The Viper sauce, while more than interesting, is wholly unnecessary.  It’s an excellent dip for the onion rings, one portion of which will serve a family. 

Richie B’s is located at Louisiana Plaza in a storefront that’s somewhat obfuscated from both Montgomery and Louisiana, but Duke City pizza paramours will discover it and they’ll return in droves for a pizza they’ll have to employ the fold hold to eat.

Richie B’s
7200 Montgomery Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 312-8579
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 10 June 2015
1st VISIT: 8 June 2015
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 19
COST: $$
BEST BET: The Supreme, Green Chile Philly, Onion Rings

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Tratta Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Al Fresco Dining at Tratta

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a Louisiana native who attended Ole Miss, has no problem poking fun at himself…and at stereotypes. During his opening monologue on a 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, the two-time Super Bowl most valuable player, told the audience he finally feels like a “real New Yorker.” Then as if to demonstrate his urban sophistication, he entertained questions from out-of-towners in the audience. When asked where to get good Italian food in New York, Manning responded “Well, there’s a great place called The Olive Garden. You’ve got to go to New Jersey, but it’s worth it. Hey, I play for the New York Giants, but all my games are played in New Jersey.” 

It’s been a long time since the Olive Garden has garnered “Best Italian Restaurant” honors in any of the Duke City’s “best of” polls.  In that respect, Albuquerque is one-up on Las Vegas, Nevada where “what happens there, doesn’t always stay there.”  Despite Italian restaurants sporting such Food Network celebrity cognomens as Batali, Giada and Bastianich, Sin City diners have consistently voted The Olive Garden as the very best the city has to offer.  Does this mean denizens of the Duke City are more sophisticated than those of the gambling capital of the world?  Could it possibly mean Albuquerque’s Italian restaurants are superior to those of Las Vegas?

Bruschetta of the Day

You don’t have to be smarter than a fifth grader (or even a politician) to know the answer, respectively, to these questions is “probably” and “not yet.”  The latter response is based on extrapolating from the quantum improvements in Albuquerque’s Italian restaurant scene over the past ten years. If the Duke City’s Italian restaurant scene improves as much over the next ten years as it has over the past decade, it’ll be a force with which to be reckoned. 

It’s much too early to know if Tratta Bistro will be mentioned in the rarefied company of  Torinos @ Home and M’Tucci’s Kitchina for ushering in a new era of greatness among twenty-first century Italian restaurants.  Tratta, which opened its doors in April, 2015, offers the winning combination of an active and engaged owner, talented and creative chef and a limited, but inventive menu sure to entice return visits.  Tratta occupies the space previously held by the transcendent Bouche.  It’s an intimate space which, season permitting, extends to the outdoors, with an expansive courtyard for al fresco dining.

Arancini

Tratta’s unique menu is the antithesis of what you’ll find at any of the area’s “red sauce” Italian restaurants.  An apt descriptor might be Northern Italian meets fine-dining with distinctive offerings during lunch and dinner servings.  The lunch menu lists five salads, four entrees and something heretofore unseen in any restaurant of any genre in Albuquerque: a dozen sliders served three per order.  These aren’t your typical burger-based sliders either.  Imagine if you will, a terrific trio of sliders constructed from seared ahi tuna, salmon and pancetta, Mediterranean crab cake and baby greens. 

The dinner menu showcases five salads and four antipasto dishes, including a bruschetta of the day.  Then there are the entrees—a phalanx of steaks, chops and seafood entrees interspersed with other entrees you won’t see elsewhere.  It’s obvious someone put a lot of thought into creating a sui generis menu.  You just might find yourself selecting dinner based as much for the way the named entree is sauced and with what it is accompanied as you will for that item itself.  For example, don’t “Porter House Chops” read better on the menu when they preface cherry cacao sauce and crispy rainbow fingerling potatoes.

Fried Artichokes over Hand-Cut Pasta

Bruschetta is akin to an unpainted Sistine Chapel, a veritable blank canvas waiting to be painted by a culinary artiste.  That canvas is essentially just toasted bread, boring by itself but with unlimited creative potential.  Tratta’s bruschetta of the day aims to do exciting things to that boring toasted bread.  Good fortune smiled upon us when the topping for the toasted bread was a tapenade (tomato, olives, bell peppers) served in a hollowed-out lettuce cup.  This relish-like puree of fresh ingredients blended together when still raw is a great way to start your Tratta experience. 

Arancini might sound like something involving spiders–and in fact, this deep-fried Sicilian specialty is indeed named for the “spider,” but not the kind that crawls up the wall.  They’re named instead for a utensil called a spider, a wide shallow wire-mesh basket with a long handle that’s used to extricate the arancini from the fryer.  Three breadcrumb-covered risotto balls stuffed with sausage and mozzarella are served on a shallow pool of marinara.  Pierce each gilded orb with your fork and you’re immediately reminded that the chief ingredient in arancini is risotto, a rich, creamy, delicious foundation for a great dish.  The marinara is sweeter than it is savory and is seasoned very well.  It would make an excellent sauce for any pasta dish.

Quails Wrapped in Prosciutto

That is, unless the pasta dish is Tratta’s fried artichokes over hand-cut pasta tossed in a blood orange-grappa cream sauce with pancetta, seasonal veggies and toasted pignolias (pine nuts).  Despite having perused this menu item thoroughly, we were somewhat surprised (very pleasantly) at the agrodolce (sweet and sour) nature of the sauce and how it played on the other ingredients.  While artichokes are a naturally complementary vehicle for the agrodolce flavor profile, it’s not everyday you have Italian pasta and pancetta tinged with sweet and sour notes.  Perhaps we should experience it more often.  This is a surprisingly good dish with plenty of pancetta to contrast the agrodolce. 

Complements and contrasts also exemplify the quails wrapped in prosciutto engorged with a savory stuffing over a blackberry port demi glace served with a goat cheese risotto.  The only element on this entree to which we didn’t apply the demi glace is the goat cheese risotto which should not be tampered with.  If you love goat cheese, you’ll understand why.  The quails, on the other hand, marry well with the demi glace which imparts sweet and tangy notes.  Quail are not a very meaty bird, all the more reason to appreciate the savory stuffing. 

There’s an Olive Garden a couple of miles away from Tratta, but given their druthers, savvy diners will opt for Tratta every time.  We’ll leave the Olive Garden for the good folks from Las Vegas and maybe a certain New York Giants quarterback.

Tratta Bistro
10126 Coors Blvd, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 227-8780
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 24 May 2015
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Quails Wrapped in Prosciutto, Fried Artichokes, Arancini, Bruschetta

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