Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Sal-E-Boy's Pizzeria in Rio Rancho
Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria on the western fringes of Rio Rancho

For decades Rio Rancho has been called “Little New York” and indeed, for decades New Yorkers made up a large percentage of the population. It wasn’t the proverbial “swamp land in Florida” marketing scheme that brought sophisticated New Yorkers to the barren western wasteland that was Rio Rancho. It was the promise of sunshine and outdoor activities in a bustling, vibrant community that attracted them.

It should stand to reason therefore that there would be at least one pizzeria in Rio Rancho that would serve real (or as real as you could possibly get in the Land of Enchantment) New York style pizza.  Frankly, considering the differences in water quality (reputed to be the secret ingredient in authentic New York style pizza) and availability of ingredients between this desert hamlet and America’s most burgeoning megalopolis, skeptics will argue that you’ll never find authentic New York style pizza.

Obviously not an eat-in restaurant

Sal-E-Boy’s is perhaps as close as you’ll find in the Albuquerque areas, and unlike some local pretenders to the New York legacy, they do it without modifying their water filtration system!

The walls of this strictly take-out pizzeria are adorned with memorabilia from the big apple–from a map of the New York City subway system to posters of the New York skyline (many of which include the Twin Towers). More impressively, those walls also speak volumes about owner Sal Lirosi’s sponsorship of local youth activities.

Okay, back to the pizza. It’s good! Very good–as in among some of the best we’ve had in New Mexico good. The tomato sauce is perfectly seasoned, the crust is of the perfect thickness and texture and the ingredients are first-rate. You can even fold it in half lengthwise as it’s done in New York. Even the sausage is good and you generally can’t get good sausage in New Mexico. The green chile Sal’s uses is also better than you’ll find in most pizzerias–not necessarily piquant, but with a nice roasted flavor.

Italian Burrito at left, Calzone at right

What’s most impressive to us is that we’ve never had a Sal-E-Boy’s pizza piping hot out of the oven. For us, it’s a fifteen minute drive back home and by the time we get there, the pizza has cooled down a little. We can only imagine how terrific Sal’s pies would be out of the oven. It’s good to know that if you can’t go to New York, you can still get good pizza in the Albuquerque area.

In past years Sal-E-Boy’s served a limited but impressive array of sandwiches, but today’s menu focuses on fewer menu items done very well. With the exception of a 12 wing offering, the menu items have some commonalities–pizza dough, sauce and invariably fresh ingredients.

Two slices of the calzone

One of the local favorites is the Italian burrito, a cross between a calzone and a pizza roll. The Italian burrito is, for all intents and purposes a mildly sauced (it really could use more sauce) meatball and green chile stuffed pizza shaped like an elongated calzone. It is a behemoth of a sandwich that few can eat in one sitting. It is better even than the 16″ stuffed pizza dough rolls which are offered with a variety of ingredients. The sausage, peppers and onions pizza roll is one of the most popular, but it, too, can use some of Sal-E-Boy’s terrific pizza sauce.

Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria
1706 Southern, S.E.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 13 October 2006
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pizza, Italian Burrito, Stuffed Pizza Dough Rolls

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