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 chronicled 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, your sense of taste may actually be diminished by “too much of a good thing.” Perhaps, more accurately “too much of a good thing” might focus your attention away from what should be the subject of your attention…and affection. At least this holds true for the name on the marquee: pizza.
I’ve long thought that underneath the formidable mound of unfailingly fresh ingredients piled high on a Village Pizza combination pizza lies a pretty good pie, but the effort to get to it and the tastes you experience beforehand do diminish its enjoyment. Take the Village combo, for example. When the menu describes it 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.” The ingredients on this baked behemoth are stacked so high you don’t know whether to eat them, make a salad out of them or organize an expedition to climb them.
While these are all ingredients most carnivorous pizza aficionados enjoy immensely, moderation might be in order. That and perhaps some cooking time. Some of the veggies–mushrooms, bell peppers and red onions–seem to be added on well after the pizza has slid into the oven. The result is room temperature and uncooked ingredients atop an otherwise steaming, hot out of the oven pie. Not only are the aforementioned veggies uncooked, they tend to be oversized. Green peppers are sliced into rather thick ribbons, not small pieces. Rather than being a fairly innocuous complementary ingredient, the thick-walled, fleshy bell peppers tend to dominate the pizza with their characteristic sweet and bitter taste sensations. The mushrooms could stand some sautéing, too.
Even the meat ingredients are generously apportioned. Thick ground beef and sausage chunks top the Village combo, but neither is especially noteworthy. The sausage lacks in the fennel flavor so prevalent in good Italian sausage. Unless you order the hot sausage, it also lacks punch. The one meat ingredient most conspicuous, however, might be the smoked ham, but it’s conspicuous because of its absence…or maybe it’s buried under an avalanche of other ingredients.
Okay, so “too much of a good thing” can be not a good thing. Take that aforementioned Village combo home, strip off a plateful or so of sausage, ground beef and bell peppers and even cold, you’ll uncover a pretty good pizza. In fact, any pie made on the premises is pretty good if you order it if it’s not buried under an avalanche of ingredients.
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, you’ll be served on paper plates reenforced by a washable plastic frame. It’s just one of the restaurant’s charms.
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 absolutey 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.
Also on the menu is spaghetti which you can enjoy with marinara, ground beef, hot or mild sausage or even vegetarian style. Spaghetti is served with two bread sticks and a salad bar (which is surprisingly sophisticated, by the way).
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 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.
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. The restaurant has two large dining rooms as well as an outdoor patio and during buffet hours, all three can be quite crowded and at times rather loud. Most diners get loud singing the praises of this popular Corrales mainstay.
4266 Corrales Road
LATEST VISIT: 17 June 2009
# OF VISITS: 5
BEST BET: Tequila Lime Wings, Village Combo Pizza, Chocolate Mousse Parfait