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M’Tucci’s Kitchina – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone..”
Stanley Tucci as Segundo in Big Night

With a name like M’Tucci’s Kitchina, you might wonder if the Italian restaurant on the intersection of Coors and Montano is named for Academy Award nominated actor Stanley Tucci. After all, Tucci co-starred in Big Night and Julie & Julia, arguably two of the very best food movies in recent years. The “Kitchina” part of the restaurant’s name is obviously a whimsical play on “cucina,” the Italian term for kitchen, but is spelled more similarly to Kachina, the Hopi ancestral spirits. In any case, if the amusing name and fun, casual ambiance doesn’t hook you, the food certainly will.

Step into the expansive dining room and the playfulness hinted by the restaurant’s name continues. Our immediate impression was “Laissez les bon temps roulette” (let the good times roll) as in New Orleans Mardi Gras. That impression was gleaned from the colorful Mardi Gras-like masks on several walls and a life-sized alligator on another. Then there’s the pergola–large enough to accommodate a table of four–with an ominous lizard crawling down the roof. There’s something to pique your interest everywhere you turn.

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The main dining room at M’Tucci’s Kitchina

The colorful masks (which are easily mistaken for those widely seen in New Orleans) are Venetian, a staple of the Carnival of Venice. The alligator…well, he’s there because co-owner Katie Gardner likes him. The chandeliered pergola is designated for feting guests celebrating a special occasion. When we commented on the restaurant’s “wildly eclectic ambiance” Katie explained that she’s a wildly eclectic person. She’s also very experienced in running successful restaurants, having owned eleven of them along with her husband in New York City…and to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

Succeeding where other restaurants have failed will certainly be a challenge. M’Tucci’s is situated in the digs formerly occupied by The Mill of New Mexico, Tomato Café and Spinn’s Burgers and Beer. It’s a tough location exacerbated by the fact that its storefront, while facing heavily trafficked Coors Boulevard, is obfuscated by distance, traffic flow and other shops. A very active Facebook presence and (mostly) glowing reviews by print and online media (including Cheryl Alters Jamison for New Mexico Magazine) have helped tremendously, but word-of-mouth from satisfied guests (especially those returning) is a major catalyst for drawing new guests. In October, 2013, scant months of its July launch, M’Tucci’s finished as runner-up in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque Restaurants  as the “best restaurant on the west side.” 

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Borlotti White Bean Soup

Katie and her husband Jeff Spiegel moved to Albuquerque, his hometown, in 2007. Eventually they started to miss the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business and launched M’Tucci’s Kitchina in July, 2013. The “M’Tucci” in the restaurant’s name is in honor of Richard Matteucci, a friend of Jeff’s. A framed black-and-white photo of Jeff, Richard and an unidentified frolicker celebrating a (very) good time hangs among the bric-a-brac. You’ve got to love an owner who shares in his fun.

While the ambiance bespeaks of fun and whimsy, the menu includes some seriously good dining options, some heretofore unseen in the Duke City. It’s impossible to pigeonhole this modern contemporary Italian restaurant which offers playful takes on classic dishes as well as a bit of local flavor (it’s virtually impossible to have a menu in New Mexico without red and green chile). Six Neapolitan-style pizzas are prepared in a wood-burning pizza oven. The bar menu, which varies daily, includes tapas-style small plates.

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House bread imported from Kansas

The visionary behind the menu is John Hass, executive chef and member of the restaurant’s ownership triumvirate. John’s interpretation of traditional foods often involves their deconstruction, refining and reinvention. You’ll still recognize the traditional dishes with which you’ve grown up, but they might not be exactly as you  John is already so highly regarded that he was named “best chef” runner up in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque Restaurants 2013.  Traditional items he prepares might not be exactly as you may remember them. They’ll be better! The ricotta stuffed cannelloni dish, for example includes both marinara sauce and New Mexico red chile which is why it’s sub-titled “Enchiladas Italianas” on the menu.

5 October 2013: You won’t need cold weather to luxuriate in the warmth and deliciousness of the Borlotti White Bean Soup, M’Tucci’s answer to the seemingly de rigueur pasta fagoli. This superb soup is constructed from Haas-made (get it?) sausage, arugula, carrots and fennel in a steamy chicken broth with just a sprinkling of Parmesan. It’s Italian comfort food at its finest even without pasta or tomatoes. The Borlotti white beans are terrific with a “meaty” flavor, creamy texture and nary a hint of sweetness. The sausage is a bit coarse, but has excellent fennel enriched flavor. A bowlful will cure whatever ails you.

Fried Brie   crispy brie cheese, apples strawberries,  mixed greens, grilled baguette, pomegranate glaze

Fried Brie
crispy brie cheese, apples strawberries, mixed greens, grilled baguette, pomegranate glaze

Fittingly, the house bread comes from America’s breadbasket. That’s one of the nicknames for the state of Kansas which is renowned for its high quality wheat production. It’s an excellent bread! A basketful of the staff of life includes six lightly toasted and buttered baguette slices. A hard exterior crust belies a pillowy soft inside with plenty of air holes. It’s the type of bread for which you risk filling up quickly, but can’t stop eating because it’s so good. 

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells laments “Menus shouldn’t need explanation. Menus should BE the explanation. That’s the point of writing things down.”  In far too many restaurants, you practically need a degree in Egyptology to understand the hieroglyphics placed in front of you.  As creative as they are with food, many chefs lack creativity with words.  This translates to overly confusing, overly wordy menus.  Kudos to Chef Hass and the M’Tucci staff for publishing menus diners can actually understand.

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Fauxpaccio de Barbabietola Arrostite

19 April 2014: One of the most exquisite appetizers on the M’Tucci’s menu is the fried brie.  Call it a finely choreographed symphony of simple flavors which go so well together.  A wedge of soft brie is sheathed beneath a crisp, light, golden crust.  It’s intended to be spread onto thinly sliced, pomegranate glazed grilled baguette.  From there you’re on your own.  You can then add crisp apple slices, strawberries and even mixed greens, a brie sandwich of sorts.  The warm silkiness of the brie amplifies the tanginess of the apples and strawberries and the bitterness of the greens.

5 October 2013: One of the more interesting items on the Antipasti menu is the quaintly named Fauxpaccio de Barbietola Arrostite.  Fauxpaccio is obviously a play on the word carpaccio, (thinly sliced or pounded thin meat or fish) while Barbietola Arrostite is an Italian terms for roasted sugar beets.  The menu had me at Fauxpaccio.  Served in a dinner plate, it’s a beautiful dish: roasted yellow beets shaved supermodel thin and as gold as New Mexico foliage in autumn, pickled red onion, goat cheese and a pile of arugula all lightly drizzled with a vinaigrette. It’s a marvelous contrast of ingredients with varied flavor profiles and textures, all thoroughly enjoyable.  A few days after having this wonderful appetizer we learned that it is no longer offered because, for some reason inexplicable to me, it just wasn’t selling.  Grrrrr!

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Pan Seared Duck Breast with creamy polenta, braised kale, caramelized onions, cherry balsamic reduction

Some Italian restaurants segregate their menus into Antipasti, Primi and Secondi, loosely translated to appetizers, first course and main course.  M’Tucci’s also includes a Pizza menu, offering some six pizzas, including gluten-free options.  Portion sizes will make it a challenge to order one from each menu then expect to have dessert, too.  The Secondi menu, available during dinner hours, is replete with proteins (rotisserie chicken, fried fish, duck breast, braised tripe, Kurobuta Pork and ribeye).  Some of them are  also available for lunch, too. 

19 April 2014:  One of the most ambitious items on the menu is the Risotto Del Giorno, a daily risotto special featuring seasonal ingredients.  Even the most intrepid of chefs avoid risotto because it’s easy to make simple mistakes that ruin the dish.  You’ve got to admire Chef Hass’s gumption.  He doesn’t just prepare risotto on special occasions, he’s got the temerity to offer it every day.  If the seafood risotto is indicative of his mastery of this oft-intimidating dish, I’ve got to visit more often.  The triumvirate of mahi mahi, shrimp and mussels in a sumptuous and rich saffron sauce was absolutely perfect.   The saffron imparts the color of a sunny disposition and a uniquely umami quality.  The seafood is fresh and delicious.  The rice is a smidgeon past al dente, a textural success.

Seafood Risotto

Seafood Risotto

5 October 2013: Much as we admire the monogamy of ducks, it’s hard to resist the beautiful feathered waterfowl when it’s on the plate and it looks so inviting.  The pan-seared duck breast with creamy polenta, braised kale, caramelized onions and a cherry Balsamic reduction is so good, it’ll mitigate any guilt we might feel.  The duck breast is perfectly prepared and sliced thinly.  The end pieces are slightly crispy.  The polenta, often a “take it or leave it” dish is definitely a “take it” at M’Tucci’s.  It’s creamy, light and fluffy and it inherits additional flavor from the braised kale and caramelized onions which blanket the polenta.  If polenta is an oft unappreciated dish, kale is often disdained, even by foodies.  This kale might win over some converts. 

19 April 2014:  The two culinary feats I have yet to master after five decades on Planet Earth are using chopsticks and twirling spaghetti around a fork.  Because of the latter, my appreciation for pastas other than spaghetti has grown tremendously.  For fork challenged diners, a great alternative to the confounding, long, thin strands is the pappardelle noodle, a ribbon pasta easy to work with.  M’Tucci’s Pappardelle con Salsiccia, a ribbon pasta with sausage is an exemplar on how well this noodle works, both from a functional as well as an esthetic perspective.  This dish showcases the Haas made Italian sausage, a medium coarse blend flavored with fennel.  My Kim says it’s of Chicago quality, a huge compliment.  A delicate sauce imbued with braised kale and Pecorino lend more than personality to this winner of an entree.

Ribbon Pasta with Sausage (Pappardelle con Salsiccia) - Haas made Italian sausage, braised kale, pappardelle pasta, pecorino

Ribbon Pasta with Sausage (Pappardelle con Salsiccia)

5 October 2013: The lunch menu includes aptly named sandwich called the AL-BQ Italian Beef, Chef Haas’s interpretation of the Italian beef sandwich held sacred throughout Chicago.  The sandwich is named partially for Al’s #1 Beef in the Windy City and of course, for Albuquerque.  The thinly shredded roasted beef, giardinera and Italian beef au jus  on an Italian hoagie roll make it Chicago while green chile makes it Albuquerque.   Frankly, we enjoyed the AL-BQ Italian Beef more than we did the sacrosanct Italian beef sandwich at Al’s #1 (although Al’s does pack quite a bit more beef into its sandwiches).  So do a number of transplants from the City of Big Shoulders.  For additional authenticity, ask for your sandwich to be served “wet” (as in immersed in the au jus).  It’ll render your sandwich falling apart moist, but that’s why forks were invented. 

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AL-BQ Italian Beef

10 October 2013: In recent years, Albuquerque has experienced not only a pizza resolution, but an evolution of its pizzas.  Almost every purveyor of the pie now offers a pizza or two sans tomato sauce and we’re all the better for it.  Of the six pizzas offered at M’Tucci’s, only two of them are made with tomato sauce.  The Alla Campagna starts with a beauteous golden brown crust topped with goat cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary, pancetta and Balsamic glaze.  The crust is a little thicker than some Neapolitan-style pizzas, especially the cornicione (an Italian term for the “lip” or puffy outer edge of the pizza) which is thick, soft and chewy.  It’s also delicious with the flavor of freshly baked bread.  The Alla Campagna’s ingredients provide wonderful taste contrasts which not only make it an interesting pizza, but a delicious one.

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Alla Campagna: goat cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary, pancetta, balsamic glaze

According to the M’Tucci’s Facebook page, an ancient proverb once declared that if four or more desserts gather in one place, at one time, you will have the power to change the world. Whether or not that proverb rings with truth, one thing is for certain: desserts at this fantastic new Italian restaurant are fantastic. That’s courtesy of pastry chef Eric Moshier who was named America’s best new chef in 2000 by Food& Wine. With that type of pedigree you know the desserts are going to be spectacular.

5 October 2013: Desserts aren’t only spectacular, they’re inventive–some of the Duke City’s most  unique and uniquely delicious pastries.  The most inventive might be the Twinkie L’Italia which Cheryl Alters Jamison described as “zeppelin size fantasy of sponge cake with a cream-and-white-chocolate center under candied pecans and a caramel drizzle.”  Fantasy is right!  This is a terrific dessert.  So is the Cannoli Di Sicilia (crispy cannoli shell, sweet ricotta filling, chocolate chips) with tantalizing citrus notes. 

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Dessert: Twinkie L’Italia and Cannoli

10 October 2013: Another transformative dessert is the Crostada De Limone, a lip-pursing lemon tart as artistic and beautiful to ogle as it is to eat.  It’s one of few lemon tarts in the Duke City that’s actually made well in that it doesn’t reek of artificial ingredients and flavors.   The lemon is actually allowed to taste like lemon, not artificial in the least.  It’s the type of lemon dessert you might find in Florida.  

The restaurant’s coffee is made by Villa Myriam Specialty Coffee, a start-up franchise owned and operated by Juan and David Certain.  The hand-picked Colombian Arabica bean is hand-roasted in Albuquerque.  It’s an excellent coffee, best described on the Villa Myriam Web site: “A very intense fragrance and aroma with an exotic flavor and a medium to heavy body, very balanced cup with a strong character and very pleasant after taste. With nutty cacao and hints of caramel smokiness notes. With the richness and flavor that makes Colombian coffee famous.”

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

You can never have too many good Italian restaurants in town. It’s a bit early to tell, but with a formula that includes great food and great fun,  M’Tucci’s Kitchina has the right stuff needed to succeed in a tough market.

M’Tucci’s Kitchina
6001 Winter Haven Road, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 503-7327
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 19 April 2014
1st VISIT: 5 October 2013
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 24
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Twinkie L’Italia, Chocolate Cannoli, Borlotti White Bean Soup, Fauxpaccio de Barbabietola Arrostite, Pan Seared Duck Breast, AL-BQ Italian Beef, Alla Campagna Pizza, Crostada de Limone, Seafood Risotto, Pappardelle con Salsiccia

M'Tucci's Kitchina on Urbanspoon

  • Edward Sung says:

    Gil, I need to not look at your website first thing before breakfast. Pan-seared duck breast? I am there. I haven’t had a good Italian Beef in years. And that Twinkie L’Italia looks…compelling.

    October 9, 2013 at 6:41 AM
  • Terry says:

    I’m salivating as I read this! It all sounds devine. Can’t wait to go back, the calamari is also a fabulous appetizer and the chocolate “lava” cake is out of this world. We’ve not had a bad meal there and we’ve been many times. Wonderful restaurant, excellent service. A real plus for the West side in particular!!!

    October 9, 2013 at 8:46 PM
  • Alan Schwartz says:

    The tiramisu, built up in a martini glass, is a welcome depart from the usual sliced sheet cake version. And, it delicious!

    October 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM
  • Sr Plata says:

    Joined Sensei and Boomer for a wonderful Italian lunch. I had the mushroom pizza with truffle oil that was really good. The dough was like eating sweet bread cooked wonderfully. It was joined by outstanding Columbia coffee. We started with fresh grilled bread bread with a light bit of oil. They have great deserts, I sat out for that and watched. I am looking forward to coming here for dinner, I feel the organic Ribeye calling my name or perhaps the Grilled Chicken. Great food and Servers, glad I came! Till next time…

    October 10, 2013 at 8:58 PM
  • Yum says:

    I live nearby this restaurant. My husband and I are regulars already and cannot eat enough of their gourmet Italian food!

    October 11, 2013 at 6:21 AM
  • Sarah says:

    I made my husband read this, (he usually doesn’t do computers). Guess where we’re going today?

    October 13, 2013 at 9:21 AM
  • Edward Sung says:

    H and I finally made it over to M’Tucci’s over the weekend, and had an excellent experience. Appetizers: Calamari Fritti (very nice – light, crispy batter, a bit of heat from pepper flakes, accompanied by aioli and a really good marinara that made me regret not ordering the spaghetti) and Fried Brie, which was nice and crispy.

    I had their house-made grilled sausage, which had great flavor (although I wish there was some fat in it — it was a little crumbly), on top of a delicious creamy polenta and a few dabs of mascarpone. Some kind of veg (braised kale?) would have really made the dish, but everything on the plate was fantastic.

    H ordered the special, which was grilled salmon. I normally don’t order salmon at restaurants because it’s invariably either dry and chewy or insipid, and H doesn’t usually eat salmon but is on a “eat things you don’t normally eat” kick. I’m pleased to report that the salmon was terrific — perfectly cooked, with a tasty crust on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside. One of the things I measure a restaurant by is how well the chef cooks fish, and M’Tucci’s gets a solid A for this salmon.

    Dessert was the day’s special, pineapple upside-down cake, and I couldn’t not try the Italian Twinkie. Both were great. The cake could have used a bit of caramelization on top, but had intense pineapple flavor and accompanied by a dollop of vanilla ice cream and cooked cherries – yum. The twinkie was exactly what I hoped it would be, that’s all I can say about that.

    While my first love for Italian food in ABQ remains Torino’s, H and I very much enjoyed M’Tucci’s and will be back. I find both restaurants interesting in the twists they put on their Italian cuisine — Torino’s with its French influences and M’Tucci’s New Mexican spin. I haven’t had this kind of Italian/New Mexican fusion before, but I think it’s a match made in heaven.

    November 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    My wife, our son and his girlfriend and I had dinner last evening at M’Tuccis .
    A bit of a schlep at “rush hour” but well worth it.
    We quickly ordered a mushroom pizza and my son’s favorite, fried calamari both coming quickly to the table while we ordered the rest of our meal.
    I know I’ve said that I would never order fried calamari again in NM mainly because it’s almost always calamari strips but what intrigued me was the description referring to it as “east coast squid” and that it was.
    Tentacles and rings lightly breaded and done very well,served with both an alioi sauce and a good marinara.
    Everyone at the table enjoyed it along with a very good slice of the mushroom pizza and both served as appetizers and certainly were enough.
    I shared the bean soup with my wife and it surely warmed me up as any comfort food would.
    The one menu item I would pass up is the Gorgonzola Salad, a rather uninspired version with iceberg lettuce, bacon shards and a Gorgonzola dressing. Boring is the description that comes to mind.
    Mains included my wife’s pork shank which in Linda Beaver’s terms will wow ya( a small homage to BOTVOLR). Served with excellent mashed potatoes it looked majestic when it arrived at table.
    The girlfriend had the salmon, shrimp, mussels special and it looked wonderful.
    My son of simple palette has the meatballs and spaghetti and enjoyed that too.
    I had the Paparadell with a cream sauce. The pasta was perfectly prepared just slightly, very slightly past the true al dente.
    I would have preferred a bit more sauce but that’s nit picking.
    The Kansas Ciity made bread disappeared in a flash.
    We all shared the terrific tiramisu which rivals the best I’ve had in NM.
    Service was concerned, attentive and not overly saccherine.
    As I’ve said before I’m not happy with cloyingly friendly waitstaffs.
    The staff at M’Tuccis was great.
    Go try it for yourselves, another excellent find by Gil.

    November 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Yo, while it is nice/humbling to be homaged (no matter how small), we all know that is ‘code'; i.e. Cartering about lusting in your updated heartstuff for The Linda. Indeed, my heart thrives on her Texas Lady-like, oozing of enthusiasm which doesn’t cause parents to squirm while kids are in the room and simply enhances the plethora of things making living here…er… enchanting, including, e.g. going beyond the pleasures of a GCCB or a Footlong (NM Red) Chile Cheese Dog from the Dog House!
    Speaking of Italian, let me use that segue to alert aficionados/lovers of things Pasta, that Anthony of the Classic (i.e. longest running ad for 13 years) has been revived!!! Alas, and pardon for being a stick-in-the-mud or being Anti-”Change” (no pun ‘intended’), I prefer the original version of…”If it’s Wednesday, it’s Prince Spaghetti Day!!!” as can be seen here http://tinyurl.com/in79233 with the updated one!
    BTW, I hope some Commentator of McTucci’s can affirm it is a true Italian joynt because in their liquor stock, there is an alluringly golden bottle of Galliano from which a splash can be floated onto one’s after dinner coffee or used to make a Harvey Wallbanger of yore as an appetizement! (FYI: the story goes, it was named after a surfer surnamed Harvey who’d bang his head against a bar wall in Manhattan Beach, CA lest he lost a surfing competition.)
    As always,
    “Chow!”

    November 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Can’t remember which restaurant I’d last been to in this site which tried valiantly to make it, but the first thing that struck me this weekend was the grand ‘renovation/reincarnation’ that’s occurred of what was formerly a very large, blah room engendering ennui. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be all about the food and I’m kinda reneging on my bias for Sullivan’s principle of “Form follows Function” as epitomized by my first TV http://tinyurl.com/lvbpa3v ,but……LOL
    The separation of the now new bar/eats area from the dining area gives the latter a sense of ‘coziness’ akin to being in a fine dining restaurant (even tho some might argue “Can you really say that about eating Italian?” Oh come on! Don’t send me letters as Leno is wont to say.)
    Seriously? just cuz ya add cloth napkins? Or cuz ya add synced-dressed wait staff who flit/bustle about attending to your satisfaction, but are not overly fawning trying to make you BFFs? (My Gal, well waitress, handled my ‘older man to younger gal like’ chit-chat with notable aplomb!) To all that, they add a fine Menu to achieve the FD designation, despite all of us being dressed-down in our ABQ “finery”.
    I chose the Shrimp Diavolo which appeared in a timely manner despite the ‘house’ being about 85% full at 5:30 (reservation hint on a Sat. night) Aha! Tied with Joe’s PH. Both sauces twang your palate from the gitgo. Uh oh, Joe’s red chile(?)and green parsley(?)flecks on his bowl’s lip bring a festivity to the offering and he offers a more reasonably priced, bountiful house salad as a side option. Joe also throws in some bread and OO dip. Isn’t comped bread in an Italian Joynt like Chips n Salsa most elsewhere? Aha…M’Tuccis ‘recovers’ with a significantly lower price Entree and the option of a ‘mixed’ (pricey?) cocktail!!!! Ambiance? Equal, tho wildly different. Background music about equal: JPH excellent, live classical/jazz guitarist; MTK nice mix of, albeit recorded, jazz. Staff? Both put many places to shame. Bottom Line? I think this ‘space’ has more than met its match for a lasting tenant! “Chow!”

    November 17, 2013 at 11:51 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Sounds like you enjoyed the experience although I think that any comparison with Joe’s Pasta House seems to be a stretch. Joe’s is the epitome of neighborhood Italian, great dishes like chicken parm and meatballs and spaghetti. Large portions that can be taken home for great leftover dining.
    M’Tucci is a notch above in terms of ambiance and the specials are much more ambitiously upscale. Not as homey as Joe’s.
    I also wonder why bread is for sale like an option on an automobile. Are restaurants tossing out more uneaten bread from diners who are watching their weight. M’Tucci isn’t big on red sauce from what I tell from their menu whereas Joe’s is a mostly traditional red sauce eatery.
    And if anyone is thinking there is no fine dining in Italian restaurants they really should try Torino’s.
    Foie Gras is not what you would expect to find at Joe’s or M’Tucci, but Maxime does do a fabulous version.
    When I arrived in Albuquerque I asked a NY transplant of Italian descent what was his favorite Italian restaurant. He replied without hesitation The Olive Garden. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time with the likes of Torinos, M’Tucci and Joes PH. A very long way.

    November 17, 2013 at 6:42 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Dinner at M’Tucci last night was more of an adventure than the first time.
    The difference was the service affected by a rather large group of at least 20+ patron who were ordering their meals at the same time we were doing the same.
    Three grilled Caesar salads came to the table as house salads and had to be replaced.
    My roast chicken (highly recommended) came to the table as something else but not with the sides of grilled asparagus and mashed potatoes. I inquired why the mashed potatoes were replaced by spaghetti and were they out of asparagus and that’s when I was told it was the wrong dish. Doh!
    It was replaced but everyone else had their main dishes by that point.
    The bill was split into the three couples and two, not mine were mixed up and required some adjustment by the two folks who got them.
    The food, from my fried polenta appy, the grilled caesar,to the gnocci, to the paparadelle plates and the salmon special were terrific.
    The other couples were surprised by bread being an option at additional cost, as was I on our first visit.
    Desserts included the twinkie Italiana, the tiramisu, and a lemon tart and were terrific.
    The two couples who had not been to M’Tucci said they would absolutely return.
    Just try to avoid the place when they have large groups coming in while you are too.
    It may be difficult, it’s a very popular spot.

    November 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Per one Daughter/S-i-L needing to visit ‘his side’ tomorrow, meant for us to gather tonight which gave the opportunity to eat Italian per my preference…”Chinese style”! I.e. we passed around servings of Quadrefiore alla Carbonara…quite sabrosa, Cannelloni Ricotta E Spinaci…the marinara “con NM Red” was great, and the Polenta E Salsicce…which is quite different in my experience per enjoying the sorta drier/slightly ‘crisp’ texture as a change of pace. Dang, forgot to get the very new waitstaff’s name, but, besides his good service, he remembered the days of Harvey Wallbangers which served well after dinner tonight, i.e. they do have Galliano as any Italian joynt should for e.g. a pour in your coffee! “Chow!”

    November 27, 2013 at 9:21 PM
  • Heather says:

    We came for a pre-Thanksgiving meal with my Dad and decided to share all of our dishes, so we could have a sampling. We ordered the Quadrefiore alla Carbonara, the Cannelloni and the Polenta e Salsicce. All were delicious – with the sauce on the cannelloni (red chile and marinara) being a favorite and the sausage (nice and crisp, not greasy) and polenta being a perfect winter’s night meal. The Carbonara was delicious too, except for a few fatty pieces of guinciale – sadly, I was the one who bit into those.

    What I really loved about the restaurant was the fact that it was not all pasta. Even though gluten-free pasta is available, it just makes the menu that much more friendly to the group to offer meat-based entrees, so that all different cravings can be met. Great bar selection too – good choice to have Left Hand Milk Stout on the draft menu, but maybe a few more local brews would be good too.

    I am not particularly fond of the location/decor and thought that maybe the large size of the dining area allowed the food to cool down fairly quickly – my only complaint, really.

    If we’re ever on the west side and need a meal, we’ll choose here. Maybe an east side location is in the works?

    November 30, 2013 at 11:03 AM
  • Jeff Spiegel says:

    Gil,

    I forgot to let you know about M’Tucci’s Kitchina’s most recent guest chef dinners. I think it’s ok since we were sold out for both evenings. But nonetheless, I regret not letting you know in advance.

    On November 22 and 23, Jason Kapela, the owner and Chef of Louie’s Wine Dive with restaurants in Kansas City, Des Moines and Omaha, was guest chef for two evenings: an Italian Wine Dinner and an eclectic New Mexico Meets Iowa. The Italian dinner was built around a porchetta of a suckling pig which was pretty wonderful. Jason was our Chef and Partner, John Haas’s mentor earlier in his career.

    ****

    On Tuesday and Wednesday January 22nd and 23rd , 2014, we will have our next such event. This one will feature Richard Matteucci and Don Ostermiller. Richard is a life long friend and an excellent Italian cook. He has cooked for both Presidents Bush. Don is a sculptor renowned for his animal figures of all kinds.

    In 2014, after Richard and Don, we will continue with our guest chef program, with Tamara Murphy and others. Tamara currently owns Terra Plata in Seattle. Previously she owned Brasa for 10 years where she was selected as the James Beard Society award winner for best Chef in the northwest. Before that, she was sous chef in one of our NYC restaurants, Extra! Extra!, where she cooked under our Chef Christine Keff. Chris was our first guest chef in August and opened with me our first three NYC restaurants. Like Tamara, Chris was selected as best Chef in the Northwest for her work at her Seattle restaurant, Flying Fish.

    Just wanted to keep you abreast.

    Best Regards,

    Jeff Spiegel
    M’Tucci’s Kitchina
    spiegel.jeff@gmail.commailto:spiegel.jeff@gmail.com

    December 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    Third visit to M’Tucci last nite and they continue to impress.
    6:30 reservation, seated at 6:30 and they were already crowded.
    Service was terrific, the food was delivered very quickly.
    Group of 6 and everybody enjoyed everything ordered.
    Another restaurant with hands on leadership by the owners who kept making the rounds making sure that everything was running smoothly.
    A great polenta appetizer and equally good calamari, the best I’ve had in New Mexico.
    Entrees were excellent and unanimously praised.
    And then there was the tiramisu, wow, so good.
    A word or two about the service.
    For a restaurant that’s always busy the service was attentive without being intrusive. The food comes out perfectly cooked and in an incredibly time fashion. Our waiter was knowlegable, agreeable and amazingly efficient.
    Everything added up to an exceptionally dining experience and by the way there were 2 back east Italian gentlemen who were likewise impressed by this Italian eatery, enough said.

    January 11, 2014 at 11:55 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Stopped in mid-week to an almost packed dining room even before 6…people wishing to avoid the V-Day crowds?
    ~ I think it is a Hoot or some kind of Karma that the 5 times I’ve been, I’ve been seated as a single, 4X by chance at the same pleasant table, i.e. not at a 2 top smashed against a wall; one time I chose the bar.
    Ventured off the beaten track to order the Grilled Sausage with creamy polenta and mascarpone. Not having had the latter 2 before: the mascarpone was “quiet”, but a dip seemed to enhance the sausage. The polenta? It seemed right on, but I’m not a polenta person apparently. (If truth be known? I’da preferred a plate of plain Angel Hair that I could slather with melthing butter to accompany the more ‘Mano’ sausage!) The sausage: the prick of the fork gave a nice ‘snap’. This banger/link/wurst was nicely ‘compact’ having also a good ‘grit’, texture wise. While my palate is not as sophisticated as most Commentators to tease out the spices of the sausages, they were to a “T”!
    ~ Waitstaff/Service: I think M’TK’s are superior to most in The City. My guy Jarad was the Best (but only if I was forced to choose)so far not only re myself but how he accommodated a a couple with pre-toddlers and didn’t shine off a guest in a large party catching his eye per her table “not being in his section”. Note to waitstaff in general if I may, however. Thank goodness “No Problema!” seems to be fading! Let’s lay to rest the use of “Absolutely”, “You got it!”, and most of all, “Aaahsome!” Or am I wrong!?!?
    ~ Heads up: Lest Y’all haven’t been in awhile, there have been some “refinements” in menu items, if I’m not mistaken, possibly to the delight of some more refined Westsiders, if there is such a thing, (see Grilia: http://www.kitchinaabq.com/dinner.html) who are willing to also pay the price .
    “Chow!”

    February 16, 2014 at 2:32 PM
  • Bruce Schor says:

    BOTVOLR,
    I’m curious what you meant when you posted the marscarpone was “quiet”? Marscarpone is very simply Italian cream cheese ala Philadelphia brand except that it is sweeter. So your use of “quiet” is confusing.
    Polenta when done well is a treat for me, one of my all time favorite dishes is a creamy polenta with wild mushrooms and a great brown sauce. I asked the chef who created the dish what his secret for creamy polenta included and he said he uses milk not broth or water when boiling to get the polenta very creamy and finishes it with a touch of cream. A very rich treat.
    You seemed very satisfied with your waitperson, Jarad.
    I can’t really tell if you were hit with “aaahsome”, “you got it” and “absolutely” during this latest visit. Is this glitch in service limited to M’Tucci or epidemic in ABQ? The wait staff I’ve encountered is primarilly made up of younger types and it’s understandable their manner of speaking may be too young for older diners who are looking for deferential treatment based on their advancing years.
    Perhaps a Prius is needed to get you over the bridge to the 21st century, that would be really absolutely awesome. Got it?

    February 16, 2014 at 9:18 PM
  • Finally time for a review says:

    I’ve been waiting to go a couple of times to M’Tucci’s to write a review. First time was a couple of months ago. I had the grilled hanger steak with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Very tasty and tender. In a word? Delicious. The wife had spaghetti and meatballs. I don’t know how something so simple could be that good, but it was pretty darn good. Dessert…well, I’ll get to that.

    Second time was for Valentine’s Day. We decided to go for a late luch/early dinner. The only dissappointment was they were serving the luch menu (although, I have to admit, I did not ask if I could order off the dinner menu). I had the green chile grilled pork tenderloin sandwich. Very good sandwich. My dissapointment in not having dinner options quickly faded. Very tasty (and quite piquant) green chile, a perfectly cooked breaded pork tenderloin, very good pickles, letuce, tomato…MMMM. The wife had the spaghetti and meatballs – she wanted to try something else, but decided it was just too good to not have again.

    Dessert – both this time and last time – consisted of the twinkie. OMG! This is one of the better desserts I can recall having (bested only by the sweet crepes at Chez Bob). My wife even loved it, and she is not into sweets very much (again, the sweet crepes at Chez Bob being a HUGE exception).

    Service was attentive without being intrusive both times.

    M’Tucci’s is starting to become one of our go to places – convenient since we live off of Coors and I-40.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:44 AM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Alas, El Brute: “quiet”?: Me (of all people?) couldn’t think of a better word as it wasn’t exactly tasteless nor negatively overpowering in flavor. It added to the banger, but I can’t describe how….LOL
    ~Polenta? Sorry, “didn’t do” anything for me, but again didn’t find that as a negative as I munched up half of it!
    ~Speaking too young for an older diner? Yes, those catch-phrases are pretty endemic across ABQ and and elsewhere. My Sis, just a tad less aged than I in MA, has been using “aaahsome” for 10-15 years!!!! Geez Louise! ‘Absolutely’ and ‘You-got-it’ are several years newer! How about retroing to youthful things “of my day” like “Bitchin choice!” which shocked my New England sensibilites when off to college in CA…LOL
    ~Older Diners looking for deferential treatment? Au Contraire! That was the Primo thing that Jarad oozed, albeit not overly sugary/patronizingly, and would charaterize other M’T staff as well in contrast to a lot of other places.
    ~Get an absolutely, awesome Prius? Big Al thanks you….wherever he is in hiding nowadays. I Thank You so I can drive around in my FireBird and get a Thumbs Up from some of those yang-thangs you think I can’t be in sync with! LMAO! (Pardon, I’m off to my patio now to catch some rays too!!!)

    February 17, 2014 at 1:29 PM
  • Jim Millington says:

    We finally made it by last night and I wish it had not been so long. I ate the slow braised shank of dead pig which was made into a delicious, tender and filling stew. Being a pig myself I ate it all.

    My better half loved her Shrimp, Lobster & Crab Cannelloni and, being who she is, we had half of it more breakfast this morning. I turned it into a traditional New Mexican Breakfast with a side of steamed asparagus and scrambled egg with green chile, onion and diced avocado seasoned with basil and oregano.

    I had a nice talk with the male half of the co-owners who confirmed his 11 restaurants in NYC but he made it easy on himself by never running over six at the same time.

    I agree with your 23 rating.

    March 1, 2014 at 12:11 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Alas…my first bit of a letdown, but I’m sure easily adjusted. Reminiscing about Philippe’s French Dip in LA with a friend and seeing Gil’s pic of the AL-BQ Italian Beef sandwich, were too much to resist this Lunchtime offering! Indeed the beef was tender and nicely/thinly sliced, but, and despite my rep for being cheap, was pushin’ it for 11 bucks given the serving size, e.g. vs Itsa Italian Ice’s Green Chile Philly Steak http://www.nmgastronome.com/?p=3570. Also, hate to say it, but altho the M’TK’s green chile topping looked nice, it really needs to rechecked for flavor and heat, albeit the pickled carrots mixed in did add an ‘interesting’ tang. In contrast to Gil’s suggestion to ask for “wet” per the awkward size of ramekins at most places for dipping, I’d suggest spooning the tasty au jus to maintain the integrity of the bun. The side of home chips and the Italian Lemonade were great along with the usual fine service.

    A Heads-up re Cinco de Mayo: The Uncle of M’TK’s Chef Haas, Chef Juan Aguacate, will join him to create a prix fixe menu (with/without tequila/beer/wine pairings) for May 5th & 6th, lest one might wish to make reservations!

    April 25, 2014 at 12:28 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    NYC Italian Deli Lovers! McTucci’s Kitchen is targeting this Fall to also open one a couple of doors down featuring counter items of homemade meats and cheeses and other deli items and a few tables for folks to enjoy a sandwich. “People from New York who have these delis imprinted in their souls, they’ll walk in and feel they’ve been transplanted back to Arthur Avenue in the (or da – “Ed’s” note) Bronx.” says the ’07 transplants in Friday’s Journal.

    July 26, 2014 at 11:46 AM

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