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