Village Pizza – Corrales, New Mexico
Research has proven that taste buds are dulled by high altitude and cabin pressure, so as an aircraft climbs, our sense of taste diminishes by as much as 30 percent. That explains why many passengers praise airline food on flights in which meals are actually served. It’s probably not that the food is good; it’s more likely that their sense of taste is diminished. Alas, it’s not solely high altitude and cabin pressure which can diminish the sense of taste. On this blog I’ve catalogued some of those factors: the use of spices (i.e., cumin) that mask the purity, earthiness and richness of red chile; the use of inferior ingredients that can’t mask the lack of quality; the impairing effects of alcohol on the senses of smell and taste; improper preparation time and so forth. One factor I have not touched upon is “too much of a good thing.”
At Village Pizza, the pizza buffet is so inviting, so tempting, so alluring that you’re bound to consume more than you should. In all its glory and splendor, the pizza buffet is as enticing as the sirens of Greek mythology who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices. Willpower will wane. Diet be damned. Resistance is futile! You can’t help but make repeat visits to this paragon of pizza perfection with occasional and frequent detours to the salad bar or to the tureen of green chile chicken stew, a magical elixir. The Village Pizza is a bit of a paradox–luring patrons with so much (maybe too much) of a good thing while daily demonstrating that willpower is not enough.
18 July 2009: If you’ve ever lamented the dearth of ingredients (particularly meats) on restaurant pizza, you’re overdue for a visit to Village Pizza, the antithesis of the “where’s the ingredients” pizzas throughout the Duke City area. It would be easier to locate Forrest Fenn’s fabled treasure than to locate more than a handful of pepperonis on many pizzas. At the opposite extreme of these chintzy, cheap pies is the Village combo , described on the menu as “a real combo piled with smoked ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, hot or mild green chile, bell peppers, red onions, ground beef and hot or mild sausage,” the emphasis should be on “piled.”
When we first undertook the monumental task of finishing the Village Combo, our initial impressions were that moderation might be in order. It’s the first time my Kim and I were ever intimidated by a pizza. The ingredients on this baked behemoth were stacked so high we didn’t know whether to eat them, make a salad out of them or organize an expedition to climb them. Perhaps only Joey Chestnut, the renowned greatest eater in history could have polished off this prodigious pie in one sitting. Over time, we’ve come to appreciate that the Village Pizza strives to provide its loyal guests not only with great food and portions, but with great value.
Geographically, the Village Pizza lies pretty close to the heart of the village, but villagers might argue that it actually is the heart of the village. It’s where families congregate to share food, fun and fellowship. Village Pizza has probably hosted more anniversaries and parties than any other venue in the village. Cognizant of its location and of environmental concerns, Village Pizza gives discounts to diners who ride their bike or horse to eat at this converted home. Exterior signage reads “Human Only Patio? No! Bring Your Lovable Canine Pal.” That’s what we do and our debonair dachshund The Dude (he abides) couldn’t be happier.
The restaurant has two large dining rooms as well as a capacious outdoor patio. During buffet hours, all three can be quite crowded and at times rather “festive.” Towering assiduous trees provide sun-shielding shade, but our favorite spot is beneath the covered portal where our backdrop is the preternatural photography of Kim Jew, a Corrales resident widely regarded as one of the Land of Enchantment’s most talented photographers. Just as the Land of Enchantment provides the most beautiful subject matter for Jew’s photographs, the Village Pizza’s dough is the canvas upon which beautiful ingredients are heaped.
In Corrales it may be said that if it takes a village to bake a great pizza, that village is the Village Pizza and if pizza dough is the canvass on which great pizza is made, Village Pizza creates the canvass on which masterpiece pizzas are made. The dough–conventional or whole wheat–is made on the premises. Thin, regular or “thick” varieties shaped into 12″, 14″ and 16″ sizes (three sizes, three thicknesses) are available for appetites of varying capacities. Each pizza is hand-tossed and baked in slate ovens. Fresh ingredients and real cheese are a standard as is the generosity of ingredients. An array of exotic ingredients such as eggplant, artichoke hearts, feta and roasted pine nuts are available for pizza aficionados who don’t want a conventional pizza. Village Pizza even offers a “take and bake” option so you can bake the pie at home.
The homemade sauce is very good, obviously made from rich tomatoes at the peak of freshness. It is seasoned very well with basil, garlic and other complementary ingredients. If you prefer pizza sans tomato sauce, the restaurant can accommodate you there, too. In addition to the original red sauce, you can have a wonderful bianco (garlic and ricotta) sauce or pesto if you please. There’s even a “gourmet” sauce option where you can choose two from the sauce triumvirate of tomato, bianco or pesto.
An all-you-can-eat buffet is available every day from 11AM – 2PM and Monday and Tuesday nights from 5PM until closing. The buffet, which includes pizza, soup, salad and breadsticks, is one of the biggest draws to this Corrales institution. Whether you order off the menu or opt for the buffet, your portions will be profligate. Village Pizza is not a restaurant you visit if when you want a small meal. Though we often eschew buffets, this is one we enjoy–even when having to share a dining room with a passel of party-goers.
Several types of pizza are available on a large silver table spotlighted by heating lamps. You needn’t worry about the pizza growing stale or cold because it doesn’t spend much time on the table. A procession of hungry diners forms quickly after the pizza is replenished. The buffet features many of the most popular pizzas–pies adorned with green chile, pepperoni, cheese and more. The Hawaiian-style pizza (pineapple, Canadian bacon) is quite good, showcasing the contrast of tangy-sweet pineapple and salty-savory Canadian bacon. Alas, the green chile would barely register on the Scoville scale. It’s got virtually no heat and that’s a mortal sin in New Mexico.
The salad bar allows you to indulge your creativity with a melange of fresh ingredients. The foundation for your salad starts with either a conventional iceberg lettuce or spinach base. Trays of ingredients include discs of pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, sliced black olives, chopped green peppers, flower seeds and some of the largest, most juicy pepperoncini (which packs more punch than the chile) in the area. Salad dressings include all the usual suspects and a raspberry vinaigrette we enjoyed for dipping the bread sticks.
Soup of the day is a celebrated event when the featured fare is green chile chicken stew. A large crock of piping hot green chile chicken stew has its own place separate from the buffet as well as its own legion of admirers who queue up to ladle it onto their bowls. This is a good green chile stew even though we were hard-pressed to glean any piquancy or smokiness. What is discernible, however, is finely cut chicken and a thick broth. We love that this stew is served hot, a much welcome respite from the chill of winter.
As someone for whom Spanish was the first and only language I knew until starting school, the word “calzone” has always amused me. In Spanish and in Italian, a calzone is a trouser, so the first time I saw “calzone” on the menu of an Italian restaurant, confusion and humor abounded. After having consumed one, it could have been called ropa interior (underwear in Spanish) and it wouldn’t have mattered. This wondrous Italian turnover crafted from pizza dough baked golden brown and stuffed with rich Ricotta absolutely captivated me.
Village Pizza’s rendition, the Corrales Calzone, is much like those calzones with which I fell in love in Massachusetts. It’s made from hand-formed dough whose outer borders are formed into bread knots you can tear off and dip into the accompanying red sauce. The golden brown bread is heavenly, very much reminiscent of bread right out of the oven. The calzone is about the size of a flattened football so there’s plenty of room in which to stuff it with mozzarella and Ricotta cheeses. It’s brushed with pesto after it’s baked. As with the pizza, you can have your calzone with additional ingredients. Spicy sausage is a good choice here.
The menu features four appetizers: breadsticks, nachos (yes, nachos), chicken wings and a veggie plate. The chicken wings are available in two varieties, a tangy honey barbecue sauce and tequila lime. The tequila lime chicken wings are served with blue and yellow corn chips, sour cream and pico de gallo. Unlike what most fried foul fanatics fantasize about, these are not deep-fried and therefore, don’t have a crispy texture. The skin has a bit of an unappetizing “elastic” feel as you bite into it. Discard the skin and you’ll find the tequila lime flavors do penetrate into the delicious, albeit chintzy chicken meat.
There aren’t many dessert options on the menu, but it’s unlikely unless their to-go boxes are full, many diners will have room left over for dessert. One option is a parfait-like dessert, a frothy chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream, piñon and two cherries. It’s available in three sizes up to 16-ounces which means it’s big enough to share.
In January, 2014, Village Pizza branched out to the southwest corner of Griegos and Rio Grande which served for years as the home of Geezamboni, a popular barbecue restaurant.
4266 Corrales Road
Corrales, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 30 July 2017
# OF VISITS: 7
BEST BET: Tequila Lime Wings, Village Combo Pizza, Chocolate Mousse Parfait, Salad Bar, Green Chile Chicken Stew