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Joe’s Pasta House – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Joe's Pasta House in Rio Rancho

Joe’s Pasta House in Rio Rancho

Once a year, despite my protestations and whining, I agree to take my Kim to the Olive Garden.  It’s a deal we have, albeit one that makes me feel like  Faust in the Christopher Marlowe play.  Faust, for the non-English majors among you was a  scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.  In my case, the deal is  a visit to Olive Garden once a year in exchange for all the strange and exotic restaurants I want to visit the rest of the year.  I sure got the rotten end of that deal.

On a list of things I’d rather do, my annual visit to the Olive Garden for a meal of cheese glop or tomato torture ranks somewhere below visiting a proctologist or watching The View.  Kim likes the salad and bread sticks and I suspect derives a bit of sadistic satisfaction in hearing me mutter polysyllabic epithets about the “Evil Garden’s” food.   The cultural anthropologist in me finds it both amusing and tragic that teeming masses congregate for pathetic pasta, mediocre marinara and boring bread sticks.  It makes me long for a visit to Joe’s Pasta house in Rio Rancho.

Kassie and Joe Guzzardi, two of the most customer oriented restaurateurs in New Mexico

Kassie and Joe Guzzardi, two of the most customer oriented restaurateurs in New Mexico at the best table in the house in front of the fireplace

Joe’s Pasta House is the antithesis of the Olive Garden.  In the words of Bruce Schor, one of my astute readers  (and not solely because our tastes in food are fairly similar), “Joe’s represents real Italian food of the real comfort variety.”  The operative word here is “real.”  Joe’s is most often thought of as old-fashioned “red sauce” restaurant, the type of which have survived the onslaught of their supposedly more sophisticated brethren, the vaunted Northern Italian restaurants;  the type of which remain so popular throughout the East Coast.  Perhaps that’s why Joe’s is so beloved in Rio Rancho, the city so many call “little New York.” 

To label Joe’s as strictly a “red sauce restaurant” is to do a disservice to one of the most comprehensive Italian restaurants in New Mexico, a restaurant which transcends labels in that it showcases the cuisines of Italy’s three distinct culinary regions: north, south and central.  Joe’s also prepares the familiar Italian American dishes developed by Italian immigrants, occasionally spicing things up with green chile, a tribute to the adopted home of proprietors Joe and Kassie Guzzardi.

Fine imported foods and confections line the shelves near the entrance to Joe's

Fine imported foods and confections line the shelves near the entrance to Joe’s

Joe Guzzardi is a peripatetic presence with a buoyant personality and charm to spare. He visits every table to make sure his customers are enjoying their dining experience. “Mi casa es su casa” seems to be his mantra–and he really means it.  I once overheard him tell a guest who didn’t like the entree he ordered, “this is my house.  We’ll make you happy.” before proceeding to recommend entrees with a different flavor profile than the dish the guest didn’t like.   Joe’s energy, enthusiasm and customer orientation are mirrored by an attentive, well-mannered and highly professional wait staff that is easily among the very best in the metropolitan area. 

While Joe manages the restaurant’s day-to-day operations, his pulchritudinous partner Kassie oversees the restaurants social media channels, search engine optimization, blog and Web site presence.   In a day and age in which it’s become fashionable for restaurateurs to tout their social consciousness, Kassie was a pioneer in forging relationships with local suppliers to ensure the highest quality, most socially responsible and healthy foods possible.  She’s understandably very proud that Joe’s won’t feed guests anything the Guzzardi family wouldn’t eat themselves.

If you’re not careful you can fill up on the complementary bread”

That means hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and to the greatest extent possible GMO (genetically modified organism) free pasta imported from Italy.  It means grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, humanely raised veal and sustainably-caught fish.  Pastas and sauces are prepared in stainless steel pots, healthier vessels by far than their aluminum counterparts.  Only non-hydrogenated oil is used and it’s changed out every day, the remnants given to owners of vegetable oil-powered vehicles.   Unfortunately Rio Rancho’s solid waste infrastructure is currently incapable of providing the recycling capabilities to fully comprehend all of Joe’s needs, but the restaurant recycles as much as possible.  

As for Joe’s famous red sauce (so good I’ve joked with Joe that he should serve it in a shot glass), the secret is in the tomatoes.  Joe’s uses only imported, vine-ripened, hand-picked Italian plum tomatoes which have a wonderful, natural sweetness.  Now, there are two schools of thought about preparing sauce.  Joe is a proponent of not simmering his sauces for hours on end as opposed to the school of chefs who employ marathon-long simmering sessions (which tend to render tomatoes very acidic).  That’s one of the reasons Joe’s red sauce is much lighter in color.   It’s much more delicious, too.

Hot Antipasti for two

It may be hard to believe that Joe’s Pasta House occupies the former digs of an International House of Pancakes (IHOP), but what’s not surprising is that the restaurant consistently earns flawless ratings on all its restaurant inspections.  It’s an immaculate and attractive restaurant.   Sophisticated stylings include an exhibition kitchen under the cover of a burnished copper awning. The restaurant’s walls are festooned by artwork provided by the Rio Rancho Art Association.

Faux Italian marble columns, a mural painted by a deceased beloved Rio Rancho city council member, real napkins and linen tablecloths let you know this is more than a casual dining restaurant even though the reasonable prices might belie that fact.  Until 2009, the great Bob Morris sang at the Pasta House, his elegant voice delivering beautiful Italian arias and romantic ballads on weekend evenings.  Bob now lives in Texas, but is much missed by frequent patrons and the staff at the Pasta House. 

Eggplant: Lightly breaded eggplant stuffed w/ ricotta cheese, prosciutto & sauteed spinach, topped w/ marinara sauce & mozzarella cheese

Eggplant: Lightly breaded eggplant stuffed w/ ricotta cheese, prosciutto & sauteed spinach, topped w/ marinara sauce & mozzarella cheese

In August, 2013, Joe’s began featuring delicious, fine, imported foods and confections for those evenings in which you’re craving Italian cuisine, but don’t want to leave home.  Almost immediately as you step into the restaurant, you’ll espy shelves replete with imported olive oils, pastas, olives, salts, risotto, nutella, pastas, mustard, cookies and so much more.  It’s not quite the next best thing to dining at Joe’s, but Kassie assures me this is excellent stuff.

Perhaps the only thing at the Pasta House as warm as the Guzzardi’s hospitality is the bread which arrives at your table shortly after you’re comfortably seated. There may be nothing as comforting as a basket of sliced bread and yeasty rolls baked in-house–unless, of course, it’s a dish of seasoned olive oil and various herbs and spices in which to dip that bread.  Joe’s Pasta House goes even further with a complementary plate of bruschetta crowned with a mixture of rich, red tomatoes, chopped onions, garlic and other savory ingredients. At most restaurants you would pay handsomely for such a treat.

Fried Lasagna

Appetizers

Extreme care must be taken to ensure you don’t fill up on bread, great as it is. You also have to be doubly cautious so as not to fill up on Pasta House appetizers, some of which arrive in profuse portions which might constitute an entire meal elsewhere. There’s absolutely no way you can leave the Pasta House hungry!  The menu features several tempting appetizers and while such options as fried mozzarella, fried zucchini and fried calamari are seemingly standard offerings at most Italian restaurants, live it up and try something unique to Joe’s Pasta House.  That something different might be the poppy seed shrimp, ten (yes, 10) jumbo shrimp sautéed with bell peppers, red onions and black olives in a tangy poppy seed sauce. It’s different and it’s delicious. 

15 January 2014: The menu offers six salads, most available in half and full sizes.  Our favorite is the Caesar salad which is classically interpreted then improved by Joe’s.  The traditional touches are large leaf Romain lettuce, shaved Parmesan cheese and croutons topped with Caesar dressing.   Joe’s touches include red peppers and a sole cherry pepper.  Caesar, after all, was Italian so these small additions are copacetic.  The Caesar dressing is applied lightly so you can enjoy the other salad ingredients.

Fried Breaded Butternut Squash and Ricotta Ravioli Served with a Piñon Cream Dipping Sauce

Fried Breaded Butternut Squash and Ricotta Ravioli

13 November 2012: Another unique appetizer is the hot antipasti for two, an entree-sized portion that features stuffed eggplant (with rich Polly-O Premium Ricotta Cheese from New Jersey), clams, calamari, shrimp and mussels baked and served with marinara sauce. The shrimp have that snap that signifies freshness and a sweet brininess that’s addictive. The marinara is among the best we’ve had in New Mexico–slightly sweet, barely acidic and wholly addictive, but it’s the eggplant that makes me want to sing like Bob Morris.  Prepared incorrectly eggplant can leave a “metallic” taste in your mouth that may last for days.  The Pasta House chefs know what they’re doing with eggplant!  By itself, it’s quite good, but the Pasta House tops it with melted mozzarella and bits of prosciutto. 

10 August 2014: One of the menu items which best shows Joe’s versatility and creativity is the sweet and spicy shrimp dish, an appetizer which by name alone you might think would be a Chinese dish.  In actuality, Joe concocted this starter as a tribute to the predilection for piquancy among New Mexicans.  The piquancy is courtesy of a roasted pineapple Habanero sauce.  At about 350,000 Scoville units, the Habanero  pepper ranks as one of the most incendiary peppers on Earth.  Not always sufficiently appreciated is its citrus-like properties.  It’s those properties which complement the roasted pineapple so utterly well.  To temper the sweet notes of the pineapple, the sauce is also replete with garlic and red onions.  The eight large shrimp are superbly fresh and have a discernible snap when you bite into them.  They’re served over a bed of fresh spinach.

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp

Addictive is an apt description for a lightly breaded eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese, prosciutto and sauteed spinach, topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Eggplant is the bane of my kitchen, a dish I’ve never been able to prepare well (hence my aforementioned references to “metallic” taste), but Joe’s rendition comes highly recommended by a trusted fellow gastronome and friend Dave Hurayt who calls it “exquisite…more than a full meal.”  Dave knows what he’s talking about.  He’s a world-traveler who’s experienced the very best in Italian food throughout Boston, New York City and Italy.  Another friend, Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver calls this the very best dish on Joe’s formidable menu.  My Italian sister-in-law says it’s just like her sainted mama used to make. 

29 August 2014: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read “fried lasagna?”  More than a few of you will probably cringe in terror at the thought of Paula Deene slathering up a perfectly good lasagna with butter then frying it.  History recounts that lasagna has actually been fried well before the popular pasta dish was even called lasagna.  In fact a First Century recipe describes “lagana” as thin sheets of wheat flour dough with crushed lettuce juice, flavored with spices, then fried.

Mediterranean Style Calamari

Fast forward some twenty centuries and innovative restaurants such as Joe’s Pasta House are preparing the most indulgent and delicious fried lasagna you can imagine.  As expected, your fork will penetrate past a blanket of molten cheese and sink down into layers of delicious strips of lasagna noodles and ground sausage resplendent in one of Joe’s famous red sauces.  Much less expected is the piquant bite, the genesis of which is actually the sausage.  It’s not New Mexico chile piquant, but it’s got a bite to it.

29 August 2014:  In recent years the seemingly de rigueur calamari appetizer has fallen out of fashion, largely because it’s almost always prepared exactly the same way–strips or ringlets of breaded calamari served with a side of marinara.  Joe’s dares to be different, offering a “Mediterranean style” calamari that brings personality and zest to an appetizer which too often earns the adjective “boring.”  At Joe’s, this is one exciting calamari dish redolent with tangy and invigorating flavors. The fried calamari is topped with warm feta cheese, capers, artichoke hearts, red onions and kalamata olives in a lemon-butter sauce. It’s even better than it sounds and thankfully Joe’s serves it in a characteristically large portion size because you and your dining companion will be vying for as much of it as you can get.

Ziti Alla Vodka

Ziti Alla Vodka

The eggplant is indeed exquisite.  It’s the type of dish which makes all your synapses fire as your taste buds try to discern the adventure of flavors going on in your mouth.  Texturally, the skin of the eggplant is soft, but not mushy.  The prosciutto is fairly mild and not nearly as salty as some prosciutto is prone to being.  The sauce is rich with tomatoes, basil, garlic and other spices.  This is an excellent appetizer, a wonderful way to start a meal. 

16 November 2013:  Joe’s fried breaded butternut squash and ricotta ravioli is one of those seasonal appetizers which may have you wishing it was autumn all year round.   Four raviolis, each the size of an iPhone are served with a piñon cream sauce so rich and decadent, it should come with a warning.  As addictive as the ravioli are, they’re also so rich you couldn’t possibly eat more than two, but you’ll relish every single morsel.  The butternut squash and ricotta combination is a perfect blend of semi-sweet and savory, buttery and creamy.  The sauce features not only woodsy New Mexico piñon, but nutmeg and cinnamon to accentuate the squash.  This is one seriously good, ultra rich, ultra delicious appetizer.

Manicotti Bolognese

Entrees

7 April 2007: The menu is broken into several sections: fresh salads, appetizers, local favorites, traditional favorites, house specialties, seafood favorites and grilled entrees. Within each section are various options, all sure to please the most discerning diners. From the “Local Favorites” section comes a Mediterranean Pasta entree as good as you might expect to find at an upscale Greek restaurant. This dish is crafted with artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes, garlic and feta cheese sautéed in a white wine butter sauce all served atop linguine pasta (or you can substitute penne). Available with chicken or shrimp, it is richly calorific and served in a deep dish. You’re sure to have some left over.

9 January 2014: Another local favorite not commonly found in Albuquerque area Italian restaurants (but extremely popular in New York City and which we’ve also had in the deep South) is the beguiling Ziti alla Vodka, Ziti pasta with prosciutto and scallions in a vodka pink sauce.  The sauce appears to be  combination of the restaurant’s rich Alfredo sauce and its meatless marinara with a bit of vodka splashed in and the alcohol cooked out.  It’s inventive and unconventional, creamy and rich, sweet and savory…and absolutely delicious.  The pasta is slightly more than al dente and the scallions appear to have been added after the entree is put together, offering a nice contrast.  The prosciutto is sliced into tiny morsels and offers a startling taste and texture difference that you can’t help but take notice.  This is an excellent entree.

Traditional Gnocchi Potato gnocchi topped with tomato sauce topped with meatballs & Italian sausage

Traditional Gnocchi
Potato gnocchi topped with tomato sauce topped with meatballs & Italian sausage

4 August 2007: One of the restaurant’s richest entrees is the Fettuccini Carbonara (pictured above) made with green peas, pancetta and a heavy cream sauce that will put weight on you just by looking at it.  There are two Albuquerque area restaurants whose carbonara I recommend highly–Paisano’s Italian Restaurant and Joe’s Pasta House.  The commonality is a subtle balance of rich flavors and perfectly prepared pasta crafted from complementary ingredients.

23 January 2011: Though it’s easy to characterize Joe’s Pasta House as a “red sauce” restaurant, in truth the restaurant excels at a variety of sauces, some complex and some simple, but all delicious.  During a visit in January, 2011, we happened upon the former, a special of the evening my Kim’s friend Rosalie Marella makes in Chicago.  The label “special” certainly fits.  It’s rigatoni pasta and pork ribs, an Italian dish showcasing a simple, but magnificently executed tomato sauce.  The dish showcases old-world style tender pork ribs cooked in Joe’s homemade tomato sauce with fresh basil, olive oil and Romano cheese served over imported rigatoni pasta.

Baked Cannelloni: Homemade pasta stuffed with seasoned beef and topped with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella

The pork ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and meaty (porky?) enough for Fred Flintstone.  It’s easy to extricate the pork off the bone, but your inclination might be to pick them up and gnaw off that pork with your hands.  It’s a messy proposition considering the tomato sauce, but then that’s what napkins are for.  The rigatoni pasta is prepared at just slightly past al dente,  but certainly not nearly to the level of the squishy, mushy overdone pasta served at the restaurant at which I’m forced to eat once a year.

23 January 2011: As smooth as degustation (a sensory (taste, smell, tactile, experience) appreciation of a meal, especially with good company) tends to be at Joe’s, there are some meals  which are thoroughly enjoyable while you partake of them at the restaurant, but not so enjoyable if you’re prone to indigestion later.  One of these is the Lobster Ravioli and Shrimp special, a sinfully rich dish of lobster and ricotta engorged ravioli topped with sauteed shrimp, fresh peas and sun-dried tomatoes in a brandy cream sauce.  It’s the brandy cream sauce which will get you.  It’s ultra rich, but also ultra-delicious which means you’ll probably polish off the entire plate. Then there’s the lobster.  Each ravioli (tablet-sized) is engorged with fresh, delicious and rich lobster meat.

Lobster Ravioli and Shrimp

13 November 2012: If ravioli is what you crave, there are a variety of ways in which you can have it at Joe’s.  It’s available as a breaded and deep-fried appetizer served with a mushroom cream sauce.  It’s available as an entree where it’s stuffed with cheese and topped with marinara sauce.  It’s also available off-the-menu as an entree called the Giovanni Special.  Invented by John, one of Joe’s long-time waiters, this dish is the mother lode for ravioli lovers.  It features six round cheese stuffed raviolis, three meatballs and two sausages topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella.  This is one of those dishes only regular guests know about.  We’ve had to describe it to members of the wait staff who have never heard of it; fortunately Joe knows precisely what it is.

13 November 2012: The Baked Cannelloni, homemade pasta stuffed with seasoned beef and topped with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella is akin to having one large ravioli. The season beef is an excellent counterpoint to the rich, melted mozzarella and the tangy sauce. Roughly the size of a baked potato, it’s a red sauce dish with the richness of an Alfredo sauce. As with all entrees at Joe’s, it’s an archetypal example of how good this specific dish can be.

Giovanni Special: Six cheese stuffed ravioli, three meatballs, two sausages topped with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella

16 November 2013: Every once in a while Joe’s will feature a special which proves just how much the restaurant’s cuisine has also been influenced by the Land of Enchantment.  Now, green chile on Italian pasta dishes isn’t exactly a novel concept in New Mexico, but rarely is it done as well as the Green Chili (sic) Chicken Ravioli, ricotta-filled ravioli topped with sauteed chicken and green chili Alfredo sauce.  The piquancy (discernible, but not overwhelming) and roasted flavor of the green chile are a perfect foil for the richness of the Alfredo sauce…and it is rich.  It’s also delicious, a fine departure from the tried and true sauce. 

16 November 2013: In November, 2012, four time James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison published an article entitled 5 Top New Mexico Spots for Divine Gnocchi on her wonderful Tasting New Mexico blog.  Cheryl lamented that for years she tended to avoid gnocchi in restaurants because “most I’d sampled in such settings were heavy with a gluey quality I associate with eating paste in kindergarten.”  She elaborated that “gnocchi should be hearty but have an ethereal lightness about them, too.”  The traditional gnocchi at Joe’s would make my top five.  Traditional means the gnocchi are made from potato, not semolina flour as prepared at some restaurants.  Potatoes is the way gnocchi are made in the Piedmont region of Italy and it’s the way gnocchi tastes best.  At Joe’s the gnocchi are topped with a superb tomato sauce and topped with meatballs and Italian sausage.

Green Chili Chicken Ravioli:  Ricotta Filled Ravioli Topped with Sautéed Chicken and Green Chili Alfredo Sauce

Green Chili Chicken Ravioli:
Ricotta Filled Ravioli Topped with Sautéed Chicken and Green Chili Alfredo Sauce

While the pasta dishes are infused with flavor, it’s apparent the chef’s culinary skills are as plentiful as are the portions.  Joe’s Pasta House is by no means a one-trick pasta.  In August, 2009, the menu was upscaled with the addition of an admirable cavalcade of chops: Porterhouse steak, French style pork chops, lamb chops and more.  These are chops the type of which you might expect to find in Chicago, the “City of Big Shoulders.”  If Joe has his way, perhaps Rio Rancho should be called “City of Big Chops.”  Lamb chops.  Pork chops.  Porterhouse steaks.

15 January 2014: The Colorado lamb chops are cloud-like luscious and redolent with grilled flavor.  At about an inch thick, they’re the antithesis of the tiny, emasculated chops so many restaurants serve and each order includes four prepared to your exacting specifications.  At medium rare as the chef recommends they be prepared, the flavorful juices flow as you cut into them.  As with much of the lamb served in restaurants, the inherent gaminess associated with lamb has been somewhat bred out which is why medium rare works so well.  These chops are tender and succulent with just the slightest hint of fat for additional flavor.   They’re also not served in the “Frenched” style with the bone “handle” for easy handling.   The lamb chops are served with creamy mashed Klondike Rose potatoes and a ramekin of delicious gravy made from pan drippings.

Colorado Lamb Chops with creamy mashed Klondike Rose potatoes

Colorado Lamb Chops with creamy mashed Klondike Rose potatoes

Porcine perfection can be found in the form of juicy French cut grilled pork chops in a Chianti mushroom sauce.  Chianti is a full and rich red wine that couples well with the mushrooms to imbue the inch-thick chops with a complementary flavor that doesn’t detract from their native pork flavor in any way.  Two chops for under twenty dollars is an additional bonus. 

In February, 2013, Joe’s Pasta House began offering a “Fish Fry” as its Tuesday night weekday special.  If you’re from the Midwest, you know that fish fry is practically a religion.  Consider the dining room tables at Joe’s your altar as you enjoy two pieces of hand-breaded, cold-water, wild-caught flounder served with a garden salad, fried potatoes and a house made tartar sauce!  The fish is fried in 100% vegetable oil.  Meat lovers have their own special day, too.  On Wednesdays, the special is all-natural, slow-roasted, Black Angus Prime Rib served with garden salad and mashed potatoes!  Liquid smoke doesn’t exist within the same zip code as this slow-roasted slab of beefy deliciousness. 

Twelve-Ounce Roast Prime Rib with creamy mashed Klondike Rose potatoes

Twelve-Ounce Roast Prime Rib with creamy mashed Klondike Rose potatoes

15 January 2014: The prime rib is available in ten- and twelve-ounce sizes.  It’s become so popular that you’re well advised to get to Joe’s early (the prime rib special is available from 4PM to 9PM) because once it runs out, you’re out of luck.   Because of the demand, Joe’s roasts some four prime rib roasts.  It’s easy to see why the prime rib is so popular.  It’s very tender, cutting almost like butter and revealing a perfectly pink center (at medium) with rich juices flowing copiously onto your plate.  As with great prime rib, the “crust” is seared to perfection.  Seasoning is earthy and natural, accentuating the terrific grass-fed flavor of the beef.   The accompanying horseradish sauce has some bite, but not so much that it detracts from the starring attraction. 

15 January 2014: You can add a dinner or Caesar salad with your entree for a pittance or top your steak with sauteed sliced mushrooms, melted mozzarella cheese or sauteed sweet onions for just a bit more.  If you’re tastes are more inclined toward surf and turf, you can also top any of your steak or chop entrees with garlic scallops.  Because scallops are delicately flavored and sweet, you might think garlic would overwhelm those qualities, but that’s not the case.  The garlic kisses the scallops softly so as not to change their flavor profile.  This is a surprisingly nice dish.

Veal Parmigiana

4 April 2014: During my years in New England, I consumed boatloads of creamy, comforting, delicious seafood bisques and chowders from Maine to Connecticut.  Nothing in the world compares to a thick, sweet, creamy bisque served at a waterfront restaurant with the advantage of being able to use freshly caught, just off the boat seafood.  There’s also no equal for enjoying such a repast while the salty sea air and balmy ocean breeze lulls you into a state of blissful relaxation. 

Joe’s Pasta House has none of those advantages, but somehow manages to serve a seafood bisque which transports me back to so many wonderful afternoons on the wharf at Gloucester, Massachusetts.  The bisque isn’t always on the menu, but when it is, it quickly sells out.  That’s because Rio Rancho may be a landlocked city several hundred miles from the sea, but its citizenry knows great seafood.  A large soup cup is brimming with fresh crab, mussels and clams sharing a creamy home with carrots, scallions, celery and a single crostini.  The seafood is unbelievably fresh and surprisingly plentiful with sweet crab being especially cherished.  The bisque is creamy and thick and is served at the perfect height of steaminess.  See where it ranks among my favorite soups in New Mexico here

Seafood Bisque

Seafood Bisque

10 August 2014: Blessed with 5,000 miles of coastline, Italy is a nation which cherishes the frutti di mari (fruits of the sea).  Pairing pasta with luscious seafood is virtually a culinary sport for Italian chefs.  There are hundreds of potential variations for something which sounds as simple and basic as a seafood stew or zuppa di pesci.  Italian chefs have learned to exercise restraint to balance the briny seafood with the delicate pasta.  A great seafood stew isn’t about mixing a net full of seafood with a bowl of pasta.  It’s about complementary ingredients melding together well. 

Joe’s version of seafood stew is a wonderful balance of fresh seafood  with perfectly prepared pasta served in a large boat…er, bowl.  The seafood–shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, lump crab and Atlantic salmon–are so fresh you might forget you’re in a landlocked state and not dockside.  The seafood is served atop a linguini pasta in a tomato basil bullion which allows all ingredients to sing.  A sweeter sauce or one more acerbic would not have gone so well with the delicate, delicious, briny seafood, but the tomato basil brings out the seafood’s natural flavors.  Joe served this dish on the first Sunday in which his magnificent restaurant opened for lunch. 

Italian Seafood Stew- Zuppa di Pesci

29 August 2014: One of the most traditional “red sauce” entrees is the almost anachronistic veal parmigiana which the vaunted Northern Italian restaurants don’t even deign to put on their menus.  Veal parmigiana is a circa 1960s favorite of Italian restaurants throughout the East Coast where it’s referred to simply as “veal parm.”  Perhaps one of the reasons this wonderful dish has fallen out of favor is because it’s not always prepared well.   At Joe’s, the veal parmigiana is the stuff of which dreams are made.  The veal is lightly breaded and perfectly prepared.  It’s fork tender and delicious with a blanket of molten Parmesan and Mozzarella and rich, tangy red sauce providing a delicious cover

Desserts

Not surprisingly, the Pasta House also has a stellar dessert tray with palate-pleasing options galore: German chocolate cake, chocolate cake, lemon cake, chocolate cannoli, red velvet cheesecake and oh, so much more. It’s all tempting and likely all delicious. Only the tiramisu and cannoli are prepared in-house.  Other desserts are sourced from a high quality vendor. 

The Italian Dream Cake will inspire nocturnal smiles.  It’s rich, creamy and delicious.  The cannoli is among the best in the city, replete with rich ricotta brought in from New Jersey.  The lemon cake zings with a nice tanginess while the German chocolate cake is the perfect marriage of coconut, pecans and chocolate.  Desserts are decadent, delicious and dreamy.

There is so much to like at Joe’s Pasta House, an Italian restaurant several orders of magnitude better than the heavily trafficked Olive Garden to which I’m subjected once a year. In 2013 that fact was acknowledged when Joe’s Pasta House was selected by readers of Albuquerque The Magazine as the “best Italian restaurant” in the metropolitan area.  That’s proof that Joe’s has become a dining destination drawing diners from throughout the Duke City area and beyond.  

Tiramisu and Cannoli, the two desserts made on the premises at Joe’s. Other fabulous desserts are sourced from a high quality vendor

Though they’re absolutely indefatigable ambassadors for their establishment, Joe and Kassie also rave about other restaurants in the City of Vision, an act of class so very typical of this dynamic couple who win the hearts and stomachs of their guests one delicious dining experience at a time. 

10 AUGUST 2014:  By popular demand, Joe’s Pasta House is now open on Sundays from 12PM to 7:30PM.  Treat yourself to the Albuquerque area’s favorite Italian restaurant where you’ll be well taken care of by the most professional staff in New Mexico.

Joe’s Pasta House
3201 Southern Blvd.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
(505) 892-3333
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 29 August 2014
# OF VISITS: 20
RATING: 24
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Pesto, Mediterranean Pasta, Hot Antipasti for Two, Lasagna, Cannelloni, Giovanni Special, Fetuccini Carbonara, Zita Alla Vodka, Gnocchi, Butternut Squash and Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli,  Tiramisu, Cannoli, Italian Cream Cake, Green Chili Chicken Ravioli, Colorado Lamb Chops, Prime Rib, Seafood Bisque, Veal Parmigiano, Fried Lasagna, Calamari Mediterranean Style, Sweet and Spicy Shrimp


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Category: Italian, Rio Rancho
  • Dave Hurayt says:

    Gil……I know you know my pal Joe Vaughan. We both seem to be much in agreement with your reviews. We went to Ming Dynasty& pretty much rolled in the food. Looking at The Pasta House In RR…we went for lunch over the winter…I think it was a weekday, and the only thing available was the buffet. Which was less than wondertful. After so many terriffic meals there we were very disappointed. Buffets are nearly always tricky& generally to be avoided…..make that always. I plan to give ‘em a buzz tomorrow to see if they have re-instituted a regular menue lunch. Their stuffed eggplant appetizer is exquisite….and more than a full meal. Davio’s ( On Newberry Street in Boston) worked that sort of eggplant magic many years ago…along with everything else.

    You may well know better than I ( Probably do ) …but the only real Deli roastbeef in Alb is from the Westside DeliMart. God bless the Cerami Family ( Of whom young Sal keeps Mimmo’s up to snuff )…also the only outfit that flies real ricotta ( Polly-O & Roma ) in from NY …. all the rest of it tastes like cottage cheese. They also sell frozen svogliatelle in from NYC….quite superb. Right up there with the ones I had in In Sicily. I suspect they’re the only outfit in the state that sells ricotta salata which ( You know ) is impossible to substitute in any recipe that calls for it. They say Tully’s is very good. Will take a bite out of that sometime soon.

    Got sick from the Bernalillo Flying Star lunch… But the bakery looks lovely.

    Two food websites you might want to know. Particularly for holiday gifts…I use them all the time

    http://WWW.Harmanscheese.com Absolutely the best aged white cheddar on earth. I lived a quarter mile away when I was in college. Very reasonable prices. The port &cognac spreads are completely ritzy&fine. Blocks of superb cheddar preposterously in-expensive. Alzo Look at

    http://www.FortunaSausage.com…a small outfit in Rhode Island ) who produce some of the best dry salcisse I have eaten including Italy. My brother, who went to med school in Rome, swears by them. The Abruzzo & the Cappicolo are completely elegant.

    Best regards

    Dave Hurayt

    September 12, 2008 at 6:42 PM
    • randall says:

      They changed the pesto sauce! It was decent now it just sucks! it’s mostly oil with little basil. Do not order the pesto pasta! blech!!!

      February 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM
  • Rodger Larance says:

    Dave . . . I have only been going to The Pasta House for 3 years now but have never been there at any time when the buffet was the only option. There has always been a lunch menu and I have been able to order from the dinner menu at earlier hours. Joe has always been very accomadating and has altered menu to special request many times. Did you follow through with with your buzz and what was the result?

    March 29, 2009 at 1:08 PM
  • Robert says:

    I’ll also echo Rodger – there is no time that Pasta House has not offered a lunch menu.

    This is the best italian dining in all of New Mexico. Nobody comes close to touching Joe Guzzardi’s hospitality and service.

    June 22, 2009 at 8:30 AM
  • Richard says:

    A friend “discovered” the Pasta House and it is a favorite for the food and the atmosphere. You are greeted at the door and although a small thing it signals what you are going to get once you enter. The waiters are friendly, informed on the food and one of the reasons we love the place. The food is consistent and we have not had a bad meal or even close to it. Refreshing to find this little jewel in a perfect little location for us. If you are looking for authentic Italian food, great service and good prices, the pasta house is a great choice.

    July 28, 2009 at 6:09 PM
  • Michael says:

    Gil, it has been a few years since I took the family to the pasta house after a really poor visit for dinner. The staff were more interested in the sports game on TV than putting out good food. Perhaps things have changed. We will give it a try again. Quotes from above like “The best italian food in New Mexico” are a far cry from the MSG laced sauces we ate there on our last vist. Again this was years ago and we did not see Joe. I will report back. Thank you.

    Michael

    August 31, 2009 at 10:06 AM
  • Joel says:

    Are you out of your mind? Joe’s Pasta house is one of the worse places to get pasta in all of New Mexico! I will agree that the bread and goodies that come with it are good but the all of the pasta dish are far from good. I have been there three times and never once was the pasta cooked al-dente and if the cream sauce is not broken there is way too much. Even my 10 year old son was upset that the pasta was over cooked and drowning in alfredo. Service is not that bad or good for that matter and if Joe doesn’t know you he won’t talk to you or listen to a complaint that you have. He is not a customer service based owner. Maybe he needs to get back in the kitchen and retrain his “chefs” more like fry cooks. To even mention them in the same breath as paisano’s is an insult to the Italian chefs that makes paisano’s great. Nothing will touch Giacomo’s in north Boston or even Batistas in Vegas but please don’t guide people to that dump when they can get properly cooked pasta from some of the “corp” restaurants down the hill. Rio Rancho needs a great Italian restaurant in a bad way and the pasta house is not it.

    Been in Rio Rancho sense before it was an I-hop and Safeway was still in business.

    September 5, 2009 at 11:13 AM
  • Gary says:

    I tend to agree with Joel and we live in Rio Rancho. While I would not go so far as to say it’s the worst place we were not impressed. Yes the singing is a nice touch. However, the owner walking around in his perfectly clean white chef’s shirt acts as though he is a nationally known chef. His ego was a major turn off. Likewise we had the misfortune of getting a waiter who had an equally sized ego too. Very much a turnoff. The food was OK, nothing to get excited about. My pasta was on the tough side (overcooked) and swimming in a watery red sauce which put this restaurant on my “do not return list.”

    October 3, 2009 at 9:51 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    My wife and I had dinner at Joe’s last evening and once again the food was excellent.
    The basis for Joe’s Italian fare is the red sauce.
    Compared to the perennial favorites like Trombinos and even the current hottie Farinas Joe’s represents real Italian food of the real comfort variety.
    The service was terrific as it always is with Joe patrolling the dining room making sure everything was OK with his guests.
    In reading Gary’s comment “the pasta was on the tough side (overcooked)” made me wonder if he had a disconnect between al dente and overcooked which would certainly denote mushy not tough.
    Perhaps there is a personal factor coloring Gary’s description of Joe walking around HIS establishment like a “nationally known chef”. Was he strutting and preening? And yesterday he was resplendent in a dark blue chef’s jacket.
    I for one appreciate an engaged owner who takes the time to ask his guests if all is OK with their dining experience.
    Joe came by our table twice last evening and I was glad to see him so involved.
    When my wife and I want good home cooked Italian food that takes me back to my years in New York we go to Joe’s.
    All the others are pretenders bordering on both New Mexican food (occasionally their cooks try to sneak in some red chiles) and the Pizza Hut/Dominos style of Italian fast food.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:38 AM
  • Dave says:

    I must agree with Robert, Richard and Roger

    A dear friend moved to a condo on the golf course & had the buffet lunch at Pasta House& was somewhat underwhelmed

    as was I ( The Lady is a good palate )…so I am very happy to know the menu is enlarged for lunch…the red sauce

    is perfectly simple and extraordinarily real..as in Italy. We look foreward to going again soon. I am constitution-

    un-able to not order the remarkable stuffed eggplant.

    Thanks for the reminder One and All

    Davido

    January 22, 2011 at 9:31 PM
  • Joe says:

    Wow, Gil. I could consider the stuffed eggplant there a piece of what I expect eternal life in heaven to be (the red sauce is divine). The stuffed eggplant is Devine. However, living in Placitas, this place is a long trek. For lunch, they only offered a dismal buffet with a pushy waitress – but this is from our experience 2 years ago. The dinner menu, and Charming Joe and son, are inexplicably the paragon Italian cuisine proprietors and Italian cuisine opus of the area. But why can’t the lunch menu hold some of the same features as the dinner menu? Many patrons have trouble driving at night or choose not to go out for one reason or another. Do you know if there is a precedent or tradition on what governs selections at lunch versus dinner? I know economy is probably the #1 reason, but some successful restaurants offer dinner selections on their lunch menu, and some successful restaurants like Joe’s pasta house seem to have a night and day difference between quality of meals between lunch and dinner.

    January 23, 2011 at 7:13 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Hi Joe

      While the Pasta House does offer a lunch buffet, an abbreviated menu of other entrees is also available. It’s not quite the compendium of deliciousness you’ll find on the dinner menu, but there’s likely something you’ll appreciate. My friend Señor Plata also tells me the amazing eggplant dish is available on the lunch buffet.

      Economics and a different customer demographic are most certainly the reasons lunch and dinner menus are generally different though I’ve been able to find definitive confirmation of that suspicion. One restaurateur tells me that the lunch crowd tends to be in a hurry to get back to work and generally doesn’t linger over a leisurely meal as the dinner crowd likes to do. That seems to make great sense.

      There are many restaurants which do feature the same menu at lunch as they do at dinner, albeit smaller portions for a lesser bill of fare. Other accommodating restaurants will let you order off the dinner menu during the lunch hours. It’s a mishmash.

      Gil

      January 24, 2011 at 9:54 PM
      • randall says:

        pesto sauce is horrible! in fact, this place is wayyy over rated!!!

        February 23, 2014 at 11:09 AM
  • Sr Plata says:

    Went to the Pasta House for Buffet lunch with my 2 pals. Its been a while since I was there and had a strong hankering for Pasta. As usual, the eggplant parmigiana was excellent and that is the key reason I go. I tried the lemon chicken and though thighs (dark meat) doesn’t thrill me, the taste was very good. They had a lot of new stuff such as Italian beef & pasta, Mac n Cheese which was good. The only issue I had was my friend experience his penne being too wet because they had the wrong spoon (regular spoon instead of slotted spoon). Of course I wasn’t shy and mentioned it to 2 people on staff but perhaps they were low on utensils (a simple swap between the pasta and meatballs would do it). The wet penne made it a bit overcooked and something the owner should keep an eye on. I will go back when I have that desire for all Sr Plata can eat pasta. I know its been a long time since they switched from RC Cola but it was a more comforting drink and hope one day I will see it back.

    January 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM
  • Sarah says:

    I have to agree with those that were underwhelmed by Joe’s Pasta. The red sauce was off, way too much sugar. My veal Parm was overbooked and smothered in the over sweet sauce. Nothing about the meal wowed us and there was a serious lack of attention to service.

    We were REALLY sorry Black Olive closed .

    January 24, 2011 at 9:31 PM
  • Valerie says:

    Gil,
    I love your blog and for the most part I agree with your culinary sense. But I have to disagree with this one. All of the sauces are pre-bought and not homemade…they call them homemade because they add to it but they don’t make it fresh. Another Sysco open package product at the restaurant is the desserts! I was really disappointed with this restaurant. After all, how can you call yourself a pasta house and you don’t make your own pasta or for that matter anything else?!

    January 28, 2011 at 9:54 PM
  • Kelly Koepke says:

    One word: Cannoli. This dessert alone is enough to make the trek from anywhere.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM
  • Kevin says:

    I’m with Kelly. The cannoli is to die for. The food at this place is consistent if not spectacular. I’m thinking you just have to like a nice steady meal, but you’re not going to get bowled over by the food here.

    January 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    I don’t want to sound like an elitist but when neighbors who have lived here their entire lives tell me their favorite Italian restaurant is Olive Garden and Trombino’s and Dino’s for pizza I’m thinking they have to get out a bit more.
    Joe’s Pasta House is the quintessential neighborhood Italian eatery not unlike those found in NY, Chicago, Philly , Los Angeles, San Francisco and many others where meatballs and spaghetti, all the “parms”, good garlic bread, cannolis and other comfort foods are the order of the day.
    Let’s not forget Blake’s Lotaburger was named NM’s best green chile cheeseburger…..
    I’m just saying.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:56 PM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Had a yen for pasta Friday night, so despite my shying from ‘one item’ dishes journeyed up to Joe’s Pasta House which by a quarter after 5 was already 70ish % full, albeit served by a plentiful wait/bus staff. I chose the Fra Diavilo with shrimp (or chicken) sauted in garlic on linguine with a ‘spicy hot marinara’. (Sometimes folks are want to say that a ‘tang’ hits after a second or two; Joe’s pretty much is right away and then his sweetness takes a second or two. I was tempted to suggest, in line with Comments but especially re Michelle O’s obesity campaign, they might decrease the sugar in the marinara, but Du…Uh, there ain‘t none! It‘s from the imported plum tomatoes they use!) Besides yumminess, the presentation of this entrée is eye-festive due to the rich, deep, almost maroon color of the sauce. Is there a special name* for the dinnerware in which these type of entrees are served? To me it’s a half-breed of a dish and bowl. *I ask as I recently ran across a few different tags for some everyday things like ’punt’ for the concave bottom of a wine bottle, ’nurdle’ as the dab of toothpaste on your brush, ‘glabella’ as the space between your eyes/eyebrows (where a BB ricochetted as a kid) and the like. Anyway, the ledge was sprinkled with red chile/green parsley flakes as befitting the rapidly approaching holiday. As a compromise to having a ‘one-item’ dish, I had a house salad (extra) with Blue which I used periodically as one might otherwise use a sorbet.
    If food wasn’t enough, shortly after I arrived this Brooklyn lookin dude (albeit he’s from the Bay Area) took up a spot right behind me to softly play some “classical” guitar as a mix of Mexican, jazz of a generation or two ago, music of El Dia de Fiesta sin un Nombre, and the like. (Certainly worth a peso in the brandy snifter!) Enter ‘Ivan Rane’ in Google’s YouTube tab to hear some samples.
    “Chow!”
    PS…You don’t need to be or speak Italian to eat Italian. Just so long as ya knows these two phrases from the North End of Baastan, you’re in: “One if by land, two if by sea” and this blast-from-da-past for some of Y’all of Premier Age….i.e. “Anthony! Anthony!” http://tinyurl.com/brjt42y (It was one of the longest running ads; about 10 yrs.)

    November 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    I know…go to Italian places for meat may not make sense, e.g.Scalo’s for their Filetto and tonight to Joe’s to try his Prime Rib. Aha, does make sense however when the meat is good. While I can’t compare Joe’s to Lawry’s Prime Rib (as we don’t have one here and my last was about ’62)…I’m saying, for the taste, texture, being perfectly cooked, and especially the Price (much more than half less) with salad and bread included, I’d like to be advised where I can get better in ABQ…Ok OK Joe’s is in Rio Rancho. The partially smashed potatoes were great per my sense they were infused with some extras. If having wine, I favor a mildly ‘sweet’ white, regardless of where a sommelier’s nose might be. Tonight a “slightly sweet” red caught my eye and I was pleased with this Tinto del Sol. Oh…the Rib is only as a Wednesday night Special. Another reason I went was to pick up a 10 pound bag of Vidalia’s for $12 ala Shriners Fundraiser at several locations around the Metro.

    May 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    BOTVOLR,
    Seems like another reason to go to JPH in Rio Rancho. I’m a big fan.
    As far as meat at Italian Restaurants there is the fabulous brisket at Torino’s, any number of veal dishes, Steak Pizziola,
    Sausage and Peppers, and last but certainly not least there is Meatballs and Spaghetti. Some folks prefer Spaghetti and Meatballs, but for me it’s Meatballs and Spaghetti. If you make meatball at home you might consider using Rao’s Meatball recipe available online. They are fabulous.
    When I want Italian food that takes me back to the neighborhood Italian restaurant and Pizzeria I go to Joe’s and have never been disappointed. Just stuffed to the gills. In a good way.
    One more thing.
    In your comment on JPH of November 2012 you mentioned a “Brooklyn looking dude”. Can you tell me what made this gentleman look that way.
    We have met several times and I wonder if you have come away thinking of me in that way considering I was born in Brooklyn. Not Brookline, Brooklyn.

    May 9, 2013 at 4:12 PM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Belatedly Brooklyn Bruce and “the Brooklyn looking Dude” reference. In my youth my Dad, Uncles, G-Pas, neighbors, etc. all wore Fedoras “24/7″ (tho that phrase hadn’t been invented at the time) and they rarely took them off except during the The Anthem at Braves/Red Sox/Bruins/Celtics etc. games or events like a wedding reception or religious function. (Alas, sometimes I wondered what the Event was when seeing my Dad getting up in the AM sometimes.)
    - I presumed one day I’d have the ‘honor’ of “having to” wear a fedora, e.g. akin to Ivan Rane! Alas, off to college in CA, I found no one wore them…what’s with that I wondered? Then, after a couple of eras of “no hats”, followed, despite Indiana Jones, the ubiquitous baseball cap…some say, the frugal alternative to the more urbane/haute “unit”, aka toupee!!! (Say with all due respect, let’s leave out any reference to Joe’s coiffure!!!)
    - Re your query: As we all know, some of us have, while meaning-no-harm, stereotypes. While I might have been yanking your chain about other things, I think most of us outsiders see…misperceive…Brooklyn, da Bronx, Joyzee, etc. as all being the same and, within that or them, “many” Italians of the neighborhood stoops and “social clubs”, are seen as of shorter stature, i.e. quite possibly images are a movie meld of Italians (well, except for Gina Lollobrigida) like Joe Pesci, Danny DeVito, Snooki, etc. wearing fedoras which sets up an ‘image’. Thus, the Ivan Rane reference. Ya know, while he admitted to being of San Francisco, I didn’t ask ‘per birth’!!! Be that as it may and while ‘thinking’ of Italians being concentrated in the East, I love the history of Bank of America http://tinyurl.com/hm9kf as growing out of the entreprenurial efforts of a Gumba using a board set on barrels as a “teller’s cage” in San Francisco after the ‘quake’!!!! when people rant against “Big Business/ Corporations”. I.e. didn’t they mostly all start through the vision of a woman or man (often with the ethic brought over from ‘the old country’ of)’ working hard, putting off buying a Mercedes or getting an ultra Cable package or taking vacation on a Carnival Cruise, and thus saving to eventually risk those “life savings” to open their own plumbing or cleaning or pizza or healthcare business that many lambast today?
    - Re yourself The Bruce S and if I have an image of you being from Brooklyn? Lest I didn’t know better: definitely from Iowa, Nebraska, or Kansas!!!! altho as Seinfeld would say: “There’s nothing wrong with that!!!”

    May 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM
  • Richard says:

    Joe’s is always a delightful eating establishment to visit. The mussels are our favorites. The staff is great, especially Megan and Madison.

    June 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM
  • Bob of The Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Say what ya will, but what other restaurant has their own stain advisor!!! I apparently signed up somehow and got this from Mama Fagioli herself about removing Olive Oil stains! What foodie…being obviously bread lovers….hasn’t so stained themselves for example and expecially who, in lieu of getting a Tat, has grown a pancia di birra living up in Rio Rancho or simply a Panza down here in the valley? Check it http://www.tinyurl.com/k8n65nj
    As always,
    “Chow!”

    August 7, 2013 at 5:31 PM
  • Richard from Rio Rancho says:

    Love Joes, especially on weekend nights. The mussels are really good. Megan and Madison are two servers we always request. We love it for a local place and love sitting in the small table by the fireplace. Joe always comes around to each table to make sure all is up to par (which it always is).

    November 18, 2013 at 7:56 PM
  • Jim Millington says:

    I have been to Joe’s several times, even back to when it was the Pasta Cafe and tied to the one in Roswell. I am not sure if it became Joe’s because ownership changed or a partnership broke up. I really like good “Red Sauce” places and unfortunately most are not good, specializing in heartburn. Joe’s is a notable New Mexico exception. Unfortunately advanced old age is making me feeble of mind and body so we rarely venture as far as Rio Rancho for food any more’ we have even reduced our trips to Santa Fe.

    What is however inspiring today’s contribution is your Kim’s glowing endorsement of Olive Garden. WE last dined there on July 4, 2005 after getting off a late flight from Chicago. There are.,or were, few elegant dining establishments along Juan Tabo on Monday night. A few days ago Kim’s endorsement inspired us to stop by. An Olive Garden regular like you probably doesn’t notice the gradual evolution of the food but taking 8.5 years of this evolution at once produced considerable notice on our part. The bread sticks were no longer the thin “cracker” type but soft and mushy. We did not receive a “Bottomless Salad.” I had the Spicy Shrimp Vesuvio while the Child Bride luxuriated in Herb-Grilled Salmon. Neither seemed in any way similar to the old menu except in one way, it still was not particularly good. Even the Child Bride stated that eating with me for several years had completely changed her tastes.

    January 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Hello Jim

      Joe’s Pasta House has not been affiliated with the Pasta Café in Roswell for more than a decade. Both restaurants were opened by a classmate of Joe Guzzardi to whom the Rio Rancho restaurant was sold about a year after its opening. Joe’s has been serving the City of Vision for nearly fifteen years now and gets better every year.

      You should never heed my Kim’s culinary recommendations. In addition to Olive Garden, she’ll send you to Subway and McDonald’s. In her defense, she’s come a long way. Growing up in Chicago, she was strictly meat and potatoes when we married. Now she’s as intrepid a diner as you’ll find and far more “open-minded” and “tolerant” than I am about chains.

      Will you and the Child Bride be at the Souper Bowl?

      Gil

      January 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM
      • Jim Millington says:

        I hope we are there. I am trying to talk the boss (who is less enthusiastic about such things) into it.

        January 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM
      • Jim Millington says:

        I got down of my knees and begged to go and finally got her to agree to it by a little white lie, explaining that poor Gil would be fired as the chairman of the event if attendance was not up yo expectations. She will have to miss her kickboxing class which I usually refer to as her “practice beating up husband class.” Thus I am escaping a few broken bones and a black eye.

        January 18, 2014 at 1:04 PM
      • Gil Garduno says:

        I pray the Child Bride has forgiven me for mistaking namul for banchan as I understand she’s got a deadly roundhouse kick.

        January 18, 2014 at 8:25 PM
  • randall says:

    the pesto sauce sucks! it’s nothing but oil!

    February 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM
  • Jim Millington says:

    The FOG dinner last night was my first trip to Joe’s in a few years. Stupid in my part! It was great and due to the Child Brides usual appetite we even had eggplant for breakfast this morning but I ate ALL of my ravioli. To bad Randall wasn’t there to cheer us up but those who were friendly and conversant dining companions. Kassie and Joe Guzzardi were wonderful hosts and stayed with us most on the evening and we will always be grateful.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:20 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Several weeks ago, despite my avoidance of Unidishes, was overtaken by a yen for just spaghetti…down and dirty…with only butter albeit, I accepted some great marina on the side. My waitgal delivered, as so typical of J&K’s staff, but I forgot to post per missing just the right word which Gil provided today per the Shake place in SF….butyraceous, perhaps reminiscent of simple meals of some of our Moms of our youth. Give J&K’s a try!

    April 7, 2014 at 2:24 PM
    • Lady Stevia says:

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the buttery pasta & our staff delivered BOTVOLR. Perhaps the real butter we always use (no margarine allowed in our house) is what had you reminiscent of meals many of our Mother’s served… That is such a comforting memory; thank you.

      April 15, 2014 at 10:03 AM
  • Lady Stevia says:

    Follow up: I am guessing I could have included this in my previous comment (learning curve – lesson learned)… Gil, Joe & I greatly appreciate how much you savored our Seafood Bisque on your last visit. Your mouth watering words make me want to call Joe & ask him to make it as a secret weekend special again; this coming weekend (if we keep it a secret I have a chance of getting a taste, not intending to be selfish but I love his Seafood Bisque too). The next time he decides to make it & not keep it a secret, I will make sure it is posted on our specials, Facebook, Twitter…etc. pages to let everyone know. Until then, mangiare bene to all; wherever you may be dining.

    April 15, 2014 at 10:21 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Lest Lady Stevia happens herein, I would like to request that she/Joe import some of the Spaghetti grown in Switzerland to perhaps hold a tasting comparison some night between it and what they might import from Italy if they’ve never done such a tasting before. I ask, as I just ran across this historical news’documentary’ http://tinyurl.com/ljz2bxr which some of you readers who are into “Farm to Table” might enjoy as well.

    April 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM
    • Kassie J Guzzardi says:

      That is too funny, I wish I would have had time to watch the short video link before rushing to the restaurant yesterday (preceding to talk to Joe & a vendor about pasta from Switzerland). Joe is going to get a good laugh out of this, not just from the video but from my responding too quickly before watching the video. I am alright with this & have been know to actually “throw myself under the bus,” intentionally to give everyone & anyone; particularly my husband, a good laugh.

      April 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Bob-a-Lou,
    Another rather peculiar suggestion.
    Asking an Italian owner chef of a top Italian restaurant to replace Italian pasta with pasta from Switzerland is , hopefully, a joke but with some of you past suggestions to other successful restauranteurs I’m thinking you’re serious.
    It is like asking you to drop all of the written affectations and try writing in English, per custom, albeit it ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime. LOL.

    April 24, 2014 at 8:06 AM
    • Kassie J Guzzardi says:

      Funny you say that Bruce; my husband’s face looked a little strained when I mentioned pasta from Switzerland, he asked me where & when did they start growing wheat in Switzerland. I will share the link with him regarding the pasta, as we do enjoy farm to table restaurants (garden to table when in season at home). After mentioning this to one vendor, he commented that Scandinavian food seems to be the culinary flavor of the year for 2014… do any of you like Herring?

      April 24, 2014 at 10:27 AM
      • Jim Millington says:

        I am sure that there are far more “any of you” than just me but, having grown up in Minnesota, I have many fond memories of Scandinavian immigrants. None of this spills over into any understanding of the recent love of Scandinavian Cuisine however. I remember some of the strangest, most awful foul smelling “food” on earth. The blueberry pie was great though.

        April 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Alas my dear El Brute(imagine me shaking my head vertically): I was only asking Lady Stevie/Joe to have a “comparison tasting” event for those who might have an interest in refining their palates regarding “Italian”…in other words, I didn’t ask them to replace their fine Italian spaghetti with Switzerland’s. Also, as far as I know, The Swiss only farm spaghetti and not ‘pastas’ in general. Lest you didn’t look, please review the video report by the prestigious BBC!
    ~ Also, if I remember correctly, you do some BBQing. If so and if you do some marshmallow roasting/smores making afterwards while singing e.g. http://tinyurl.com/76my853 or http://tinyurl.com/lhx6yba as you gaze upon some magnificant sunsets given the exclusive locale of your adobe, I advise stocking up as the devastation of ’12, seen here http://tinyurl.com/k7lzhpm, should be hitting the retail markets in terms of availability this year when stockpiles run out!

    ~ Scandinavian ‘Food’! One of my late Fathers-in-Law, who was a most vociferous Dane, tried to educate my palate by treating me to such places as Sunset Strip’s Scandia in days of yore. Does Prime Rib count? He also introduced me to such greats as Tuborg and Carlsberg beers along with
    aquavit, a liquor often served unmixed. Gil would certainly be cautious in accepting a glass as besides caraway, some versions may use…are ya ready this?…Cumin for flavoring!!! Skol!!!

    April 24, 2014 at 3:27 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Suggesting that Joe’s try Swiss spaghetti is like suggesting to a kosher Jew they try some applewood smoked bacon. “Just try it, I’m sure you’ll like it, it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted”.
    Or suggesting you retire the Firebird and by a nice used Prius, never gonna happen so why bother putting it up for discussion.
    Which apocalypse are you talking about?
    I don’t sing, I don’t make s’mores so am I still at risk for the devastation you predict, or is it the impending price hikes for foods of all sorts?
    Will the GCC dog at the dog house rise a quarter to something like $3.75?
    A PBR at 95 cents?
    Please tell us so I can start preparing the bunker now before it’s too late.

    April 24, 2014 at 6:23 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Poor, poor Bob- a-loo,
    Much too much free time with little to show for it besides folks scratChing their heads wondering why you post this nutty stuff.
    I wasted more of my limited time on this earth with clips that remind me of the classic movie Dumb and Dumber. Ii am giving up 2 things regarding your comments.
    1. Re-reading your comments
    2. Viewing your countless, inane links.
    That should free up a few more rounds of golf per week.

    April 25, 2014 at 10:36 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Yo: While Folks don’t need an excuza to go to Joe & K’s, right now (in addition to the fine Italian imports on the shelves in their Piccolo Negozio) they are offering bags of ‘in season’ Vidalia Onions https://www.vidaliaonions.com/history.htm as part of their annual fund raiser effort for Shriner’s Hospital for Children http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/

    Eh! even if you are not an onion lover, what a great ‘Carino’ to bring instead of a bottle of wine as you go to so many wedding or graduation receptions during the traditional weeks ahead!!!! Eh, are you “into Jack” on FX Monday nights “doing” “24 Watching Parties”? Great for your condiment bar for your grilled ‘Burque’ sliders; or ramp-up your salsa; or, what the heck, eat ‘em like an apple they’re so sweet!!!!

    (As a complete aside and with all due respect to Folks restricted by a diet: I saw this (Caveat: strictly adult YumYum) http://tinyurl.com/oyqkcyo on the internet and was wondering if anyone is keeping this a secret as to where they are offering them here in town or anywhere!!??)

    May 12, 2014 at 3:24 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Hello FsOG,
    Our next dinner will be at Budai on Thursday May 29 @ 700PM.
    Elsa will work out a menu with a $20 per person price point.
    Please let me know who is in and who is out.
    Looking forward to our next FOG outing.

    May 14, 2014 at 8:34 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Am not much of a dessert person, but had an urge for a cannolo…just the right size; a playful presentation; scrumptuous to taste while not overly sweet!
    “Chow!”

    June 8, 2014 at 4:31 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Bob-A-Loo,
    A Plate
    A Cannoli
    That to you is a “playful presentation”?
    Really?

    June 9, 2014 at 6:46 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Alas, my poor El Brute…
    ~ Yes, a Cannolo…despite my novice culinary status, I do try to educate where appropriate, e.g. as pertains to yourself (and myself just the other day…LOL): See: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cannoli
    ~ Playful presentation?: Oy vey! JPH appears to go beyond what some might be satisfied with as a cannolo: http://tinyurl.com/nzswnca . JPH’s cannolo struck me as having a bit of generous pompadourian-like stylizing, kinda along the lines of what some might associate with the whimzy of a http://tinyurl.com/myjyb2q Unfortunately I didn’t take a pic before devouring it, so you’ll have to buy your own. I also tried to take pains to avoid the reference to French Poodles to avoid any negative associations biasing Folk from trying one; i.e. some may hold disdain for a doggie they don’t think macho, e.g. a sherpherd.
    Hope all that helps!
    As an aside while speaking of dogs:Arf: has anyone noticed how some dogs appear fewer…e.g. Brittanies; cocker spaniels; Irish setters; Scottish terriers; and especially Collies??!!

    June 9, 2014 at 12:23 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    I was at JPH one week ago tonight.
    My dessert?
    A Cannoli.
    Simply placed on a plate.
    Excellent indeed, but are you saying you get preferential treatment including “playful presentations” of your cannolis.
    Perhaps you ordered it off the kiddies menu and it had some multi colored-jimmies instead of chocolate chips.
    French Poodles?
    Not in many years and only called French by those who call fries “American Fries”.
    I would suggest you are still mired in the 50′s.
    And what’s up with you going to the dogs unless you’re thinking about the culinary tastes of certain foreign countries.
    Re Poodles, as the owner of 2, I don’t recommend you select them as house pets, never pick a dog that’s smarter than you.
    Chow! (a smallish dog you might consider)

    June 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM
  • Kassie J Guzzardi says:

    Gil; Joe & I would just like to thank you for your most recent update from your latest visit. Your writing is very eloquent & we can almost taste the food you write about in all your food blog’s we read. You are very appreciated not just by your loyal readers, but by the many, many restauranteurs you write about both in NM & in your nationwide travels. Please share our appreciation with Dave Hurayt, Bruce; Sr. Plata Silver, your Italian sister-in-law & you many wonderful followers not only for their kind words but also for their support of local, Mom & Pop restaurants.

    August 23, 2014 at 12:04 PM
  • Sr Plata says:

    Thanks for the kind words. The Pasta House is a haven in Rio Rancho and at least for me puts me in a space that I feel like I am on the East Coast or at my original place of the City of Angels. The bottom line, it has very good food that makes me feel at home in either coast or simply now in the Land of Enchantment…That Eggplant on the lunch buffet is a killer…

    August 25, 2014 at 6:40 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    If you were going to spend a few days off on vacation…or possibly as a working trip to explore for new recipes…who would you leave The House to? Ya, “Family” (well,for the most part)! What a testament to what is Familia at JPH when Kassie & Joe do just that….tootling off to Italy. But ain’t I being redundant, as you too always feel, first hand, like your Family when Kassie and Joe’s “girls and boys” serve you and tend The House.
    “Chow!” and Fastafazool!

    September 4, 2014 at 12:16 PM
    • Gil Garduno says:

      Roberto, in your inimitable fashion you hit the nail right on the head. Joe’s is the quintessential family restaurant where you’re treated as a welcome and valued guest…like family. Every other restaurant in the metropolitan area could learn a thing or two from Joe’s when it comes to hospitality. Throw in the wonderful Italian food and two terrific owners and you’ve hit the trifecta.

      September 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

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