Torinos @ Home – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Torinos @ Home

On Monday, October 21st, 2013 in a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode entitled “Aces of Authenticity,” the Food Network introduced Torinos @ Home to the world. Just four years earlier–on 22 December 2009–i was one of, if not the very first critics to see greatness in what was then a tiny Italian eatery coaxing amazing flavors from its humble menu. Then ensconced in diminutive digs, it was obvious Torinos @ Home was destined for far better things. During my many return visits over the years, Torinos has never ceased to impress–even amaze–me. Quite simply it’s one of the very best restaurants of any genre in the Land of Enchantment.

So what makes Torinos @ Home stand out from among so many Italian restaurants in New Mexico. It starts and ends with owners Chef Maxime and Daniela Bouneou who are absolutely passionate about what they do. They have a sincere desire to please their patrons with the very best food they can prepare and they strive to present it as a work of edible art. They relish the challenge of knowing that they have to win over each guest one meal at a time and recognize they can never have an “off” night. Their greatest pleasure is in seeing the smiling faces of very contented guests.

Guy Fieri of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program loved Torinos @ Home
Guy Fieri of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program loved Torinos @ Home

How can you not smile when the beauteous Daniela greets you with great alacrity and proceeds to treat you like a much-welcome guest at her home? How can you not smile when a veritable cavalcade of deliciousness prepared by one of New Mexico’s very best chefs reaches your table? A visit to Torinos @ Home is an escape, a temporary respite to a better place, where you’re waited on and treated like royalty.

When you’re dining on culinary excellence, it’s easy to forget your cares. All you want to do is indulge in the luxuriant flavors of cuisine prepared by a chef who once worked in Michelin two- and three-star restaurants in his native France. Maxime certainly has the chops and experience to wow his guests, even those with the most sophisticated palates. On her wonderful Tasting New Mexico blog, the scintillating four-time James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison called Torinos @ Home the “best destination dining in New Mexico.”

 Daniela and Maxime Bouneou, the heart and soul of Torinos @ Home
Daniela and Maxime Bouneou, the heart and soul of Torinos @ Home

Initial Visit: 22 December 2009

Never has the adage “Everyone’s a critic” been more true than since the advent of the Internet. The blogosphere is a tailor-made venue for the general public to express itself openly, honestly and directly—and openly, honestly and directly the public does. The anonymity of writing online reviews has emboldened in the American culture, a mean-spiritedness equaled only in the vicious, in-the-gutter squalor of politics. At least that’s the outward appearance.

Researchers have discovered that when consumers write online reviews, they are more likely to confer positive ratings than negative ones. On a scale of one to five stars, the average online review grade bestowed to products and services as diverse as hotels, dog food and restaurants is about 4.3. The average rating for YouTube videos, according to Google, Inc. is even higher at 4.6 stars.

The Santa Fe Village, original home of Torinos @ Home

Respondents to TripAdvisor’s online review and rating service accorded Torinos @ Home a perfect rating of five. A perfect rating–that’s as much an anomaly as Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s perfect ten during the 1976 summer Olympics. It’s akin to Bo Derek’s pulchritude. Out of 85 respondents (as of December 23rd, 2009), 75 rated Torinos “Excellent,” 9 rated it “Very Good” and one sole dissenter said it was only “Average.” There’s a nay-sayer in every crowd.

Americans, it would seem are softies, an Oprahesque culture prone to puffery. At least that’s the impression I gleaned by reading TripAdvisor, source of the self-professed “world’s most trusted travel advice.” TripAdvisor, which allows consumers to review and rate all aspects of the travel experience (hotels, flights, restaurants), listed as the number one restaurant in Santa Fe, a humble, rustic little Italian restaurant named Torinos @ Home. Considering that among the City Different’s 327 restaurants are some of the most highly regarded restaurants under America’s spacious skies, is it possible that a restaurant whose name sounds more like an e-mail address than that of a restaurant is that good?

Torinos @ Home was ensconced in a very small corner of the Santa Fe Village

Burbling comments on TripAdvisor unabashedly supported the rating with such accolades as “best food in Santa Fe” and “best I’ve ever had” uttered with unfettered enthusiasm. A veritable love-fest for all aspects of the Torinos experience seemed almost too good to be true. The comments would have you believe that at Torinos, heaping portions of ambrosia are served on gilded platters by beautiful maidens. That last line is hyperbole, but not by much.

Me, I’m from Missouri…or at least the part of me that says “show me” is. When Daniela Bouneou, one of the restaurant’s owners, invited me to visit her restaurant, she indicated she would be honored to have Torinos @ Home listed on my index of Santa Fe restaurants. She said nothing about Torinos being rated the number one restaurant in Santa Fe or about the outstanding reputation it has garnered since launching in 2006. Obviously she wanted me to find out for myself.

The diminutive interior of Torinos @ Home in the Santa Fe Village

As much as TripAdvisor respondents like Torinos @ Home, they love Daniela even more. From the descriptions on TripAdvisor, I pictured an apron-wearing signora with Monica Bellucci’s sultry beauty and the culture and refinement to mesmerize all guests with her graciousness and hospitality–a veritable Italian kitchen siren. Daniela is as wonderful as advertised!

Raised in Torino (Turin to most Americans), the capital of Northern Italy’s Piedmont region for which her restaurant is named, Daniela attended culinary school at the precocious age of 14, but opted instead to pursue a career path in the “front of the house” for which her buoyant personality is best-suited. While working as maitre d’ at a four-star hotel in Nice, France, she met and married Maxime Bouneou, the hotel’s promising sous-chef. They moved to Santa Fe shortly thereafter.

Daniela on December 22, 2009, the day I first met her

Their Santa Fe restaurant ventures were initially in the employ of some of the city’s most prominent dining establishments. Maxime served as the Executive Chef at Fuego at La Posada de Santa Fe, a high-profile Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant. Daniela managed The Chocolate Maven for five years. Friends inspired the couple to open up their own restaurant after being completely blown away by the traditional Italian dishes they served during dinner parties at their home.

Torinos @ Home was ensconced in the venerable Santa Fe Village, a shopping center with an old west charm just a couple blocks south of the Plaza. For capturing the essence of Santa Fe, few shopping centers can match the Santa Fe Village with its unique local retail stores. Charm and essence are nice, but the truth is, the restaurant didn’t have a storefront presence and its square footage wasn’t much more spacious than a couple of office cubicles. Newcomers relied on smallish exterior signage and a slate board listing the day’s specials to point them in the restaurant’s general direction.

Worse, Torinos’ was tucked away in a corner hallway which got awfully crowded during peak hours as hungry patrons queued up for the limited number of tables or lined up to place an order. Though the brightly painted walls–the color of Santa Fe sunlight on one of New Mexico’s more than 300 days of sunshine annually–had a welcoming effect, when you’re hungry, you don’t want to wait no matter how great the food may be.

Torinos Relocates to Albuquerque

Shortly before opening in Albuquerque, Torinos @ Home celebrated Maxime’s birthday

On February 16, 2010, the Bouneous sold their restaurant’s assets and the right to lease their charming spot so they could relocate to Albuquerque where Maxime’s family resides. Aside from familial reasons, Daniela and Maxime wanted a location which could provide the amenities all successful restaurants need (in addition to great food): a reasonable lease, plentiful parking, patio seating and spacious accommodations (the very antithesis of their crowded space at the Santa Fe Village center).

It took less than six months for Torinos @ Home to achieve in Albuquerque what it achieved in Santa Fe. Since relocating to the Duke City on May 24, 2010, it has been among the highest rated restaurants on Travel Advisor from over 900 Duke City restaurants rated. More than 90 percent of the respondents participating in the online review rated it “Excellent.” In February, 2010, Torinos @ Home closed its doors in Santa Fe and relocated to the Duke City. Truly Santa Fe’s loss is Albuquerque’s gain. Among aficionados it has achieved near cult status.

The Bouneous found everything they sought in the Journal Center off Jefferson Street at the former home of Voila. Torinos @ Home has made itself at home in comfortable new digs, launching its Albuquerque operation on May 24th, 2010. Torinos is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11AM to 5:30PM and dinner from 5:00PM to 9:00PM. Reservations are suggested for dinner. The menu remains a memorable–maybe magical–tribute to outstanding Italian cuisine with a deliciousness heretofore not experienced in Albuquerque. It’s hardly a compendium of all things Italian and it is certainly not a “red sauce” Italian restaurant. Instead, it serves a limited number of items prepared exceptionally well.

Adjacent to the restaurant is a little store selling Italian treasures
Adjacent to the restaurant is a little store selling Italian treasures

A larger kitchen also means an expanded lunch menu which now includes Grigliata Di Pesce, a selection of fresh fish—grouper filets, swordfish and scampi– all grilled and prepared with a hint of extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon and a whole roasted tomato. The antipasti, salads and soups section has also grown and now includes an antipasti platter for two that might elicit involuntary salivation, first when you read its component ingredients on the menu and next when it’s headed to your table. Though the menu section may be entitled “Just A Panini,” Torinos’s sandwiches hardly warrant the limiting descriptor of “just.” These are superb sandwiches!

In its annual food and wine issue for 2011, Albuquerque The Magazine awarded Torinos’ @ Home a “Hot Plate Award,” for “Hot Restaurateurs.” The Hot Plate Award is the magazine’s highest honor signifying appetizers, dishes, desserts, drinks and restaurants “that we can’t live without.” What a tribute to Torinos’ that Duke City diners can’t live without this gem of a restaurant. Some critics I trust consider it the only truly great Italian restaurant in Albuquerque with its nearest competition rating a very distant second.

Appetizers, Sandwiches and Soups

Italian bread with herb infused olive oil
Italian bread with herb infused olive oil

A basket of Italian bread and a decanter of herb-infused olive oil will help diffuse your hunger and stave off involuntary salivation while aromatically enticing entrees are delivered to nearby tables. Italian bread is characterized by a crispy crust and a chewy texture and Torinos’ rendition of the staff of life will not disappoint. Until late 2010, the bread came from the world-famous La Brea Bakery in California which boasts of an artisan’s passion, skill and dedication in every loaf. The bread was shipped to the restaurant where the baking process was finished. Thanks to a more expansive space, Maxime now bakes the restaurant’s focaccia and it’s fabulous–better even than the world-famous artisan staff-of-life from La Brea.

The olive oil is superb as well. You won’t need any of the sprinkled-on seasonings other restaurants serve. The olive oil is resplendent with the herbaceous freshness of a complementary blend of herbs swimming in the decanter. where they are joined by thin ancho chiles. You’ll also want to save a couple slices for dredging up whatever may be left over of the sauce you select for your entree…and you’ll definitely want to purchase a decanter of this olive oil before you leave. It’s world class stuff!

Bacalao
Bacalao

20 April 2013: Cheryl Jamison is especially besotted with Torinos’ Baccalao appetizer. In chronicling The 10 Best Things I Ate in New Mexico This Year for 2012, Cheryl described the Baccalao as “the ultimate salt cod preparation.” It certainly is a fabulous composition: salted cod fish and Yukon Gold potatoes mashed together with a sweet confit garlic cream. What makes this dish special is how it blends into one dish, familiar yet seemingly disparate flavors. The Yukon Gold potatoes are a perfect foil for the pleasantly “fishy” flavor of the cod. The sweet confit garlic cream lends just enough moistness to prevent the dish from being dry. The dish is served with a crostini topped with a terrific olive tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes.

Figs marinated in Marsala, Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula salad, goat cheese crostini, vinaigrette
Figs marinated in Marsala, Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula salad, goat cheese crostini, vinaigrette

20 April 2013: While the Baccalao is probably an acquired taste (my Kim didn’t like it), most diners will appreciate an Antipasto quadrumvirate of figs marinated in Marsala, Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula salad, and a goat cheese crostini. This is an appetizer that will excite all 10,000 taste buds while challenging them to discern each of the five recognized taste sensations (salty, sweet, butter, sour and unami). It’s served on a wooden cutting board. Each component is magnificent. Together they create an adventure in flavor.

Prosciutto di Parma, one of the best known varieties of Italian uncooked ham, is an intensely flavored (courtesy of dry-aging), thinly sliced ham with a nice fat content. Whether by design or by accident, a generous helping at Torinos is shaped like a rosette on the cutting board. The goat cheese, spritzed with just a bit of honey, is fantastic. It spreads easily on the crostini and is a wonderful counterpoint to the figs marinated in Marsala, a wine frequently used in cooking. The arugula salad is drizzled with the house Vinaigrette which melds magnificently with the peppery greens.

Burrata and Tomato (Similar to a Caprese Salad): juicy Heirloom tomato (in season), burrata mozzarella, Nicoise olives, fresh basil pesto
Burrata and Tomato

5 April 2014: The Caprese salad may be a simple salad, but it’s imbued with qualities that elevate it to greatness. At its essence, this salad is a concordant combination of flavors, textures, and freshness: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, aromatic basil, and your choice of drizzle: either or both olive oil or balsamic. Torinos takes this simple salad and raises it to rarefied air. Instead of mozzarella, this salad is constructed with burrata, an almost unnaturally soft and moist fresh Italian cheese made from cream and mozzarella. Burrata is ethereal in its texture and as rich a cheese as you’ll find. A wonderful fresh basil pesto takes the place of the all-too-ordinary basil. Olive oil is drizzled onto the resplendent greens and ripe tomatoes while balsamic circumnavigates the dish. Simplicity meets sophistication can be delicious.

Iceberg Lettuce & Fegatini Di Pollo

26 December 2014: Implying that someone was “chicken-livered” was of the most deleterious insults one person could levy against another during the late nineteenth century. For offal-loving foodies, the term chicken liver can only mean one thing–deliciousness. Some chefs go out of their way to obfuscate the distinctively rich, creamy and slightly metallic flavor of chicken liver, a favorite tactic being marinating it in or pairing it with agrodolce (sweet and sour) sauces. Kudos to Maxime for not disguising what is really a tender and mild flavor (at least in comparison to beef liver) and letting it shine.

Of the many salads we’ve had at Torinos, our very favorite showcases chicken livers in a melange of ingredients all with distinctive personalities. The Iceberg Lettuce & Fegatini Di Pollo features an entire half head of iceberg lettuce, sauteed chicken livers, crostini, Pecorino Romano, radishes, walnuts and a shallot vinaigrette. Easily the star of this sumptuous salad, the chicken livers have that addictive flavor and texture that chicken liver lovers lust after. The shallot vinaigrette brings everything together brilliantly.

Soup of the Day: Zucchini Ciliantro
Zucchini Ciliantro

22 December 2009: The menu describes its soups as “heart warming.” That’s an understatement! Like mans’ best friend and favorite four-legged companion, a great soup loves you unconditionally. It provides hearty substance and warms the cockles of your heart. It’s equally at home on your sick bed as it is at a sumptuous feast. Torinos’ zucchini cilantro soup is such a soup! Four oversized croutons (perfect for crostini toppings) soak up the well-seasoned elixir while you bask in the liquid love as it slides down your throat. It’s the soup Daniela served me during my inaugural visit and remains one of my favorites.

Oven roasted tomato, garlic, fresh thyme, basil and homemade croutons (there is no cream, no chicken broth in this soup)
Oven roasted tomato, garlic, fresh thyme, basil and homemade croutons

4 November 2013: How many of us have ordered tomato soup at an Italian restaurant that’s reminiscent of the soup in a can with which we grew up? Not so at Torino’s where tomato soup means oven-roasted tomatoes, garlic, fresh thyme, basil and homemade croutons. There is no cream or chicken broth in this soup. It’s rich, sweet-savory tomatoes at their comfort food finest. It’s a simple soup made extraordinarily well from excellent ingredients.

Pasta Fagoli
Pasta Fagoli

4 June 2011: Better still is Torino’s rendition of pasta fagioli, an Italian peasant soup which translates to “pasta and beans” (typically cannellini beans). As with many family dishes, the recipe for pasta fagioli varies greatly. Quite often it is made with a stewed tomato or tomato paste base. Torino’s variation is not made with tomatoes, but it is no less fragrant than its red sauced counterpart. Unlike some pasta fagioli, its broth is thick and soul-warming with pasta and beans in perfect proportion to sundry vegetables. My sister-in-law Lola DeVivo Laws, a proud Italian loved Torino’s pasta fagioli so much, every bite brought tears of joy to her eyes.

Duck Confit Panini
Duck Confit Panini

21 November 2012: In its annual food and wine issue for 2012, Albuquerque The Magazine named Torinos’ duck confit sandwich one of the yummiest sandwiches in the city. It’s one of the yummiest in the state! The canvas for this gem is focaccia bread from La Quiche Parisienne which is layered with a herbaceous (fresh thyme and cilantro) goat cheese spread, duck which has been confit in its own fat for ten hours, and grilled zucchini. This is a magnificent sandwich! The duck is moist, tender and absolutely delicious while the goat cheese spread lends a savory-slightly tart counterpoint.

Calamari: Stuffed with pancetta, garlic, fresh herbs and ricotta cheese
Calamari: Stuffed with pancetta, garlic, fresh herbs and ricotta cheese

4 June 2011: Surprises abound with every visit. You can literally expect the unexpected, a twist here and there to any preconceived notions you might have about Italian food. If you thought all pasta fagioli, for example, should look and taste like the Olive Garden’s version, Torino’s will break that paradigm quickly. If you think calamari should be cut into ringlets, breaded, deep-fried and served as an appetizer with some sort of dipping sauce, you’re in for a treat should you order Torino’s calamari entree. Instead of thinly sliced ringlets, the calamari actually resemble large pasta shells. That’s because Torino’s serves them in their natural state minus the tentacles. Maxime stuffs each calamari with pancetta, garlic, fresh herbs and ricotta cheese and serves them with a tomatoes concasse (essentially peeled, seeded and crushed tomatoes) and a tart Balsamic reduction. The texture may be a bit off-putting to some as it’s almost rubbery, but it’s also replete with flavor. It’s a unique way to enjoy succulent squid.

Foie Gras Au Torchon: Served with Applewood Smoked Duck and Fig Preserve
Foie Gras Au Torchon: Served with Applewood Smoked Duck and Fig Preserve

9 December 2011: During our inaugural dinner visit, one of the two featured appetizers was Foie Gras Au Torchon served with applewood smoked duck and fig preserve. Foie Gras, which translates from French as “fat liver” is a highly-coveted, incomparably rich and delicious duck liver that’s been fattened specifically to give it a silken texture and unctuous flavor. This luscious, delicate “meat butter” dish is a foodie favorite and bane of vegetarians everywhere. France is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of foie gras which is at its very best during the autumn and fall seasons when quite naturally, ducks accumulate most fat, particularly on their livers.

Torchon, which means “dish towel” in French refers to the way the foie gras is often prepared. It’s truly a delicious irony that the most craved and coveted portion of the canard, a culinary luxury, is traditionally wrapped in humble and lowly dish towels and poached for as long as three days. The results are an eyes rolling back in the head, swoon inducing foodgasm. Torinos’ foie gras is among the best we’ve ever had, heightened by the addition of whisper-thin slivers of applewood smoke duck and a thin fig preserve “trail” that’s dragged on the plate to give you just a sensation of sweetness without overwhelming the make you weak in the knees flavor of the duck.

Main Courses/Entrees

Ravioli of the Day: Spinach and Ricotta With A Three-Herb (Dill, Tarragon and Chives) Butter Sauce
Ravioli of the Day: Spinach and Ricotta With A Three-Herb (Dill, Tarragon and Chives) Butter Sauce

22 December 2009: The ravioli of the day (a concept no longer on the menu) is what Daniela chose for my introductory meal at Torinos. On this day, the ravioli was stuffed with ricotta and spinach and drizzled lightly with a three-herb (dill, tarragon, chives) butter sauce. Until that point, I’d never had better ravioli! In fact, compared to this ravioli, almost all other ravioli I’ve ever had is on par with the dreaded canned Chef Boyardee variety.

The three herb commingling imparted heretofore not experienced fresh herbaceous qualities to the rich buttery sauce: the divine fennel- and anise-like pleasantness of tarragon; the clean and subtle tangy balance of sweet and savory that is dill; and the sweet, mild onion-like versatility of chives. Each of the dozen raviolis on my plate were perfectly prepared and uniform in size. The texture was neither too al dente nor mushy in the least. The ricotta was not dominantly rich as some Italian restaurants serve it, but subtly rich in a manner that complements other ingredients. A generous sprinkle of fresh parmesan topped this fabulous entree.

 Fresh herbs raviolis topped with a goat cheese cream sauce
Fresh herbs raviolis topped with a goat cheese cream sauce

18 October 2010: Possessing a heart of gold as well as an amazing memory, Daniela remembered just how much I loved the ravioli dish and emailed me when Maxime prepared it with a decadent goat cheese cream sauce. Wow! Who says you can’t improve on perfection! Who says you can’t have too much of a good thing! This dish is the epitome of rich deliciousness.

Grouper al Cartoccio: Grouper filet baked in a crispy wrap with Swiss chard, mussels and clams
Grouper al Cartoccio

20 April 2013: Having worked in a fishing village, Maxime is a stickler for freshness. He has cultivated a network of sources which ensure next-day delivery of fresh, just-caught fish. It makes a difference. His preparation of Grouper al Cartoccio is tres magnifique. The grouper is stuffed with Swiss chard, sealed in a crispy filo-like parchment then sautéed and served in a bowl surrounded by steamed clams and mussels. The entrée is then drizzled with a light Pomodoro sauce. It’s already got a spot reserved on my “best of 2013” list.

Beef Cheek Manicotti
Beef Cheek Manicotti

4 November 2013: Guy Fieri, the loquacious host of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show is a rather skilled chef himself. One of the ways he likes to demonstrate his chops on the show is by predicting the featured chef’s next move: “in the oven at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.” While observing Maxime as he prepared beef cheek manicotti, Fieri seemed at a loss. Either that or he was in awe of Maxime’s meticulous preparation of delectable dish which wasn’t crafted solely for the Food Network, but is available on the daily menu.

This entree is absolutely amazing, so rich and delicious grown men will swoon as they eat it and women will consider it better than chocolate. Maxime cooks natural beef cheeks for just over five hours in red wine then combines them with fresh ricotta and stuffs them into manicotti shells. They’re then baked in the oven with Bechamel, Pecorino Romano and Fontina cheeses melted over the top. The richness of this dish should be paired with an acidic side such as the aforementioned tomato soup. It’s a heavenly pairing.

Risotto Al Fegatini Di Pollo -Porcini

26 December 2014: Italy’s Turin region is credited with the creation of innovative risotto dishes that transform one of the most traditional, comforting and homey of Italian dishes into sophisticated, gourmet-quality favorites. At first glance, Torinos Risotto Al Fegatini Di Pollo appears rather simple, a deep dish of short-grain rice straddling that fine line between being congealed and being perfectly prepared. Its richness and complexity may not be discernible in its appearance, but it sure is at first bite. That richness and complexity is also discernible in its ingredients: white Vialone rice, chicken liver, Porcini mushrooms, Guanciale (pork cheeks) and white truffles, ingredients in perfect proportion to one another and all complementary to each other. Despite its absolute deliciousness, it may not be possible to eat any more than one bowlful of this nearly overwhelmingly rich dish.

Bistecca Alla Griglia: Grilled flat iron steak on the grill, roasted vine tomato and fagioli
Bistecca Alla Griglia: Grilled flat iron steak on the grill, roasted vine tomato and fagioli

20 April 2013: It’s not every Italian restaurant that offers steak on its menu, much less excels in its preparation and delivery. In Torinos’ Bistecca Alla Griglia (grilled steak), we enjoyed a better steak than we’ve had at many a steakhouse. Maxime pioneered the flat iron cut long before it became a popular offering. Until they became so popular flat iron steaks were a much more value-priced cut. It’s a cut that is tender, juicy and which some experts say has the “beefiest” flavor of any cut of beef on any steak. Maxime exploits these qualities to their utmost, serving a fork-tender steak all carnivores will thoroughly enjoy. It is served with a roasted vine tomato and fagioli, the delicious white beans often found on soup.

Ravioli stuffed with spezzatino (beef brisket)

1 June 2010: When interviewed by Ryan Scott on the much loved and missed Break The Chain radio program, Maxime revealed that spezzatino, a slowly braised beef brisket, is his very favorite dish. It’s almost always on the menu in one form or another. One of the ways in which Maxime prepares it is by stuffing it in ravioli. This is one of many dishes on the menu that has absolutely blown me away. The slowly braised brisket is unctuous and almost preternaturally good.

Spaghetti Bolognese & Guanciale

26 December 2014: Shamefully “Bolognese” sauce in American restaurants has typically meant a meat sauce not entirely different from their de rigueur meat sauce. Bolognese is so much more than meat sauce which originated in the northern Italian city of Bologna. Soffrito, a variety of flavorful and aromatic vegetables fried in olive oil and butter forms the base of this sauce to which chunks of meat are added along with a white wine reduction. tomato paste and stock. Unlike most marinara and meat sauces, this sauce isn’t seasoned with oregano or garlic nor is acidity a strong quality. In recent years, we’ve experienced authentic and delicious Bolognese twice–one in Montecito California’s Trattoria Mollie and now at Torinos where the sofrito includes carrots and celery and the meat includes guanciale, pork jaw and beef from the 4 Daughters Ranch in Belen.

 Spaghetti alla Carbonara: Pancetta (Italian Bacon), cream, egg, caramelized onion, garlic and parmigiano
Spaghetti alla Carbonara

21 November 2012: It’s not quite as rich, however, as Torinos’ Spaghetti alla Carbonara, perfectly al dente pasta tossed with pancetta (Italian bacon), cream, egg, caramelized onion, garlic and parmigiano. It’s one of those rare dishes that is so rich you know you shouldn’t finish it all, but so good you can’t stop eating it. Calvin Trillin, one of the best food writers in America once suggested that instead of turkey, Americans should gather around the table for pasta carbonara. I’d gladly forgo turkey for Maxime’s spaghetti alla carbonara.

Anitra Al Forno (Duck Leg Slowly Confit for 10 Hours)

23 May 2010: From the “Torinos Entrees” section of the menu, it’s hard to pass up Anitra al Forno, a duck leg slowly confit for ten hours served with seared polenta and fresh vegetables sauteed with extra virgin olive oil. After your first bite, you’ll lament that so many restaurants seem to believe duck should be fruity-tasting. The flavorful fat from the confit process imbues the duck with flavor through and through as well as a crust that seals in juices. This is a very moist and tender duck leg.

Buccatini Puttanesca

28 December 2010: As refined a lady as Daniela is, it’s always a joy to share a laugh with her when the topic at hand is so unladylike–such as when we discussed the etymology of the popular Italian dish Buccatini Puttanesca. The literal translation of this delicious dish is “whore’s spaghetti.” The origin of the term is in dispute, but what can’t be disputed is just how wonderful this dish is at the hands of a master chef like Maxime. Buccatini Puttanesca is a lively entree–pleasantly piquant, a bit salty, tantalizingly tangy and wholly delicious. At Torinos, its construction includes anchovies, olives, capers and other complementary ingredients. The anchovies are discernible, but not so much that the anti-anchovy crowd will disdain this wondrous dish.

Tagliatelle Gorgonzola

Torinos’ pasta dishes include one aptly named “Tagiatelle Gorgonzola “For You Blue Cheese Haters,” though for this fan of fetid fromage, it’s hard to imagine anyone not liking stinky cheese, the more rancid and blue the better. I suspect Daniela and Maxime are having the last laugh because gorgonzola is itself a blue cheese, a veined Italian blue cheese, in fact. Like other blue cheeses, it can be crumbly and salty with a pronounced bite. On tagliatelle, this cheese finds a receptive canvas. The tagliatelle, a long, flat ribbon-like pasta similar in shape to fettuccine, is perfectly prepared; the sauce is surprisingly subdued, a rich, buttery, but not overwhelming sauce.

Torino26
Prime Rib, Potato Gratin, Vichyssoise Carrots

9 December 2011: Dinner might mean something unexpected such as a featured special of roasted prime rib au jus served with a potato gratin and vichyssoise carrots. The prime rib is a slab of wonderfully roasted (Lowry’s quality) just-off-the-bone prime rib with a perfectly pink hue redolent with a peppercorn enhanced au jus. It’s nearly fork-tender and as juicy as any prime rib you’ll ever have. The potato gratin is a beauteous brick of thinly sliced and layered potatoes and cream seasoned with garlic. The top layer is beautifully browned and each layer underneath perfectly prepared. While the term vichyssoise is most often associated with a cold French soup, the term actually means “from Vichy” a city in France. Torinos’ vichyssoise carrots have a sweet (but not overly so) flavor and a crisp texture (a boon for those of us who don’t want mushy carrots).

BUTTERNUT SQUASH MANICOTTI: Oven roasted butternut squash, extra virgin olive oil, caramelized onion, fresh ricotta cheese, baked in the oven with bechamelle, pecorino romano and fontina cheese melted over the top
Butternut Squash Manicotti

13 August 2011: In season, one of the most overdone ingredients on restaurant menus is butternut squash. Unfortunately more often than not, restaurants tend to prepare it to a near-dessert level of sweetness. Instead of letting its natural sweetness shine forth, chefs tend to add sweetening spices to its creamy beige flesh. At Torinos, Maxime pairs the butternut squash with fresh ricotta and stuffs them into hand-made manicotti then tops the manicotti with extra virgin olive oil, caramelized onions, Bechamel, Pecorino Romano and Fontina cheeses melted on top. It’s some of the best manicotti you’ll ever have times five, the pairings of ingredients heightening the best in each other.

Cioppino
Cioppino

5 April 2014: For seafood lovers, few things are as satisfying as a rich, hearty seafood stew, whether it be cioppino or bouillabaisse. There are several similarities between the Italian-Portuguese cioppino and the French bouillabaisse, both of which have their genesis in the pots and cauldrons of the scions of ancient Mediterranean fishermen. Chef Maxime, a French man who cooks Italian food, can call his seafood stew anything he wants as long as he serves it. Cioppino is a very nuanced dish that takes on the personality of the seafood from which it is constructed as well as the distinct seasonings which give it its kick. Torino’s rendition includes shrimp, Pacific cod fish, mussels, clams and calamari in a star anis clam broth. It’s a San Francisco-worthy cioppino showcasing fresh seafood in a sumptuous broth. You won’t leave a drop.

Gnocchi Spezzatino: Organic beef brisket (braised for 5 hours in red wine) served with homemade potato dumplings
Gnocchi Spezzatino: Organic beef brisket (braised for 5 hours in red wine) served with homemade potato dumplings

5 April 2014: In the November 8, 2012 edition of Tasting New Mexico, scintillating author Cheryl Alters Jamison introduced readers to the “top five New Mexico spots for divine gnocchi.” Not surprisingly, the Gnocchi Spezzatino, made the list. This gnocchi is made from homemade potato dumplings and an organic beef brisket braised for five hours in red wine. The dumplings are delicate, smooth and rich while the beef brisket is so tender it falls apart much like carne adovada. The red wine and beef reduction may be the highlight of a dish whose every component is absolutely fabulous.

Desserts

Apricot & Ricotta Fried Ravioli

26 December 2014: Mention fried ravioli and the image conjured by most foodies involves the fried, breaded ravioli appetizer invented in Saint Louis, Missouri where a strong Italian culinary lineage exists. At Torinos, fried ravioli involves a dessert, three circular ravioli stuffed with apricots and ricotta then sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and encircled by vanilla Mascarpone cream. There’s only one thing wrong with this dessert. It’s that three of these decadent ravioli aren’t nearly enough.

Daniela’s tiramisu

13 August 2013: Legend has it that when needing a “pick me up” in between amorous trysts, the courtesans of Venice would consume Tiramisu (the literal translation of which is “pick me up) to boost their stamina. An addictive, rich and ethereally light Italian dessert, when made right it will leave an indelible impression on you. The very best tiramisu I’ve had in the Albuquerque area has been from Blades’ Bistro in Placitas, Joe’s Pasta House in rio Rancho and Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria in the Duke City. That is, those were the best until I sampled Daniela’s Tiramisu at Torinos’ @ Home. It’s also the most authentic tiramisu I’ve had, wholly unlike the “cake” type tiramisu some restaurants serve. That’s pseudo tiramisu. Daniela’s rendition is served in a concave bowl, the discernible melding of spirits, espresso and cocoa defying convention by being both whisper light and having body and texture.

Chocolate Mi-Cuit

9 December 2011: Some diners might not brave a dessert which translates from French to “half cooked,” but then they’d be missing the rich deliciousness of Torinos’ chocolate mi-cuit. Similar to the molten centered chocolate cakes served in highly regarded restaurants such as Roy Yamaguchi’s eponymous Roy’s, this is a chocolate cake so decadent it can only be finished if shared. Torinos’ rendition is topped with vanilla ice cream and served with amarena cherries. Amarena cherries, grown mostly in Bologna and Modena, Italy, start off as slightly sour cherries, but they’re preserved in a rich, sweet syrup that makes them nearly cloying. The vanilla cuts the sweetness nicely as does the adult chocolate.

Pistachio Square

21 November 2012: If you’re in the mood for something not quite as rich or decadent, the pistachio square is the dessert for you. Pistachios are a versatile nut that can serve not only as a snack food, but in entrees and desserts. They lend a savory quality to desserts that are would otherwise be cloying– such as baklava at Yasmine’s Cafe. The pistachio square is a tarte in which finely chopped pistachios are the star and creme Anglaise is a counterpoint of sweet richness. The tarte is dense and moist with an excellent crust.

Postscript

Torinos does a bustling take-out business, the best way to curb the inevitable cravings you’ll experience after a meal at what became, after only one visit, my favorite and highest rated Italian restaurant in New Mexico. Anything on the menu is available for carry-out. Dinner from Torinos, even if you have to warm it up yourself, is the next best thing to dinner at Torinos.

Also available is a little store adjacent to the restaurant in which Italian goodies are sold. You’ll want to stock up on Maxime’s olive oil, biscotti, chocolate croissants (more on these later), homemade jams and a veritable treasure trove of other exciting and interesting items. Daniela introduced us to her favorite candies growing up in Italy. They’re wrapped similarly to saltwater toffee, but are wholly unlike saltwater toffee in texture. Best of all, they’re available in various flavors (pear, anise, mint, apricot and more.

Outstanding food, reasonable prices and portions, exceptional service…not to mention the fabulous Daniela. Torinos @ Home is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Was it Santa Fe’s best restaurant? A phalanx of restaurant critics say it was. Will it be Albuquerque’s highest rated restaurant? Daniela invites you to find out for yourself.

TORINOS @ HOME
Journal Center
7600 Jefferson Street
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 797-4491
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 26 December 2014
1st VISIT: 22 December 2009
# OF VISITS: 14
RATING: 25
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Ravioli of the Day, Spezzatino, Fruit Cobbler, Soup of the Day, Antipasti Platter, Prosciutto “Just Like Italy” Panini, Pollo & Carciofini Panini, Taliatelle Gorgonzola “For You Blue Cheese Haters,” Anitra Al Forno, Spaghetti Puttanesca, The Latino, Calamari, Pasta Fagioli, Duck Confit Sandwich, Spaghetti Carbonara, Baccalao, Grouper al Cartoccio, Butternut Squash Manicotti, Beef Cheek Manicotti, Gnocchi Spezzatino, Cioppino

Torinos @ Home on Urbanspoon

About Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, nearly 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,100 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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75 Comments on “Torinos @ Home – Albuquerque, New Mexico”

  1. Too Funny Bruce…. and with all due respect to your Brooklyn roots (and those of Folks reading from da Bronx!):
    While we admittedly might scramble our eggs differently (is that even possible?) and butter our toast on opposite sides, I hope you will accept that we each may be ½ correct (only ½ wrong?) when it comes to Gumba! (Thank you for your caution about the ‘downtown boys’. Whoa, that they’d ever bar me from my Filetto (Phileto as the case may be) at Scalo’s (which no one herein has challenged my “appraisals” thereof!!!) Alas, where I’m always coming from re using Gumba is here http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gumba per #1 & 2 where therein and pray that no one ever references me #5 ! Lo, here’s a more supposedly “sophisticated?” review: http://tinyurl.com/mkxj7xx
    As always…as my Polish Gentile Babcia might (tho I never heard her) say: “Oy Vey, those Italians!: Life (?)… is a bowl of spaghetti!
    “Chow!”

  2. BOTVOLR,
    It’s “goombah” and I’ve always thought of the term as less than flattering
    As in “fuggetabout it, he’s a real goombah”.
    You should be careful, the downtown boys may read Gil’s blog like everyone else in Albuquerque and now that your photo has been revealed you can run but you can’t hide…..
    i’m just saying….

  3. Eh Gumbas! For what it’s worth: yesterday in Old Town, while enchanting Tourists with delights of things to do in the environs here and statewide, I ran into a delightful couple visiting their son/D-i-L/G-kids for the winter. Alas, let the stereotypes/profiling ensue as it might add color to my telling Y’all they are from Brooklyn “these many years” from the old country…Italy. Despite just about perfect English, their accents were delightfully a little thicker than a good marinara…but not quite as thick as melted parmigiana on a tender (excuza for some) veal cutlet! When I asked had they found an Italian restaurant to their liking per their annual visits, they both threw up their hands and blurted out in unison…Torino’s!…including their warmth for Daniela and Maxime. Mama Mia…I thought they were going to break out into a Tarantella! I think ‘old world’ propriety restrained them from doing a Hi-Five!
    (Yo Thanks Jim, but I enjoy and need to read what all you other Galz and Guyz experience!!!)

  4. We went by Thursday knowing that DDD had aired but we hadn’t seen it. I ordered Squid ink Calamari and the Child Bride did BEEF CHEECK MANICOTTI. We loved it. We saw a repeat tonight and were shocked to see that these were the two featured dishes. It did not seem like Guy’s usual type of place and he was much more “restrained” than usual, not even guessing the next step such as “20 minutes at 350 degrees” because he didn’t know. You will never go wrong here.

    By the way, tell Mr Bob “congratulations on being a prolific commentator.”

  5. Saw Torino’s (and Casa Chimayo) episodes on DDD, earlier this week.
    Good coverage of Chef Maxime, would loved to have seen more of Daniela at work in the front of the house!

  6. Quick dinner at our favorite Italian eatery last night and as always had a great meal, great service.
    Figs and prosciutto with a balsamic reduction, olives, cippolini onions was perfect and my stuffed calamari should be tried by everyone to experience how good calamari can be when prepared to perfection.
    Torino’s continues to be outstanding, worthy of being called the best Italian cuisine in New Mexico.

  7. Torino’s is delicious and their service and atmosphere are great as well. We took our family there for my Dad’s birthday, and everyone loved it (including my Italian brother-in-law from Rhode Island)! Thanks for reminding us to get back there soon!

  8. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s been a few months since we last visited Torino’s — a reflection of our finances rather than our loyalties. I would be heartbroken if Albuquerque lost Torino’s. If quality equated with business it would be the most crowded restaurant in town.

  9. I’ve heard through the grapevine that Torinos has not been very busy lately. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it or those that have to make a trip there. It is one of Albuquerque’s best restaurants. I plan to go this week myself.

  10. Last night we celebrated my wife’s birthday at home with friends. It was a special night, made even more special by my wise decision to have Torinos provide the food for this happy occasion.

    I want to give a public thank Daniella and Chef Maxime for the great job they did! They provided a delicious meal, which everyone raved about. I can’t say enough about their personal touch and attention to detail in helping me plan the menu. I’m taking full credit for our guests compliments, however Daniella and Maxime are the true stars!

    I strongly recommend you consider Torinos’ at home catering for your own events!

    Thanks again Daniella and Maxime!

  11. Thank you Daniella and Maxime for making my Brother-in-law’s birthday celebration a wonderful success. We had the antipasto plate and several pasta dishes. My wife enjoyed the Gnocci and brisket especially. I still have some money left on a gift certificate and hope to share it with Sr. Gil Garduno in the near future! Cheers.

  12. Stopped at Torino’s yesterday after a trip to the airport.
    Good news.
    In mid February Torino’s begins dinner every night.
    I’m excited.
    As for lunch……
    My wife had the gnocci with their fabulous, fork tender brisket.
    I had Orecchiette with pesto. Light tasty filling.
    We split the antipasto platter and added a slice of the Chef’s foie gras. It is the best around with cheese, meat, cippolini onions to die for.
    Now with their projected every night dinners the drive from the hinterlands is more than woth the trip.

  13. I completed a holy trinity of sorts with breakfast at Torinos today.
    The “holy trinity” being breakfast, lunch and dinner, and if you include cooking lessons we can call it the holy quartet.
    My breakfast was the house omelet with house made sausage, foccacia toast and a great house made jam.
    All excellent and certainly worth more visits.
    They seem to be excellent in all they do.
    Took home a jar rhubarb cardomon jam.
    Just couldn’t resist.
    I’m under their culinary spell.

  14. Had lucn at Torino’s this past Thursday
    Had the gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce. I was amazed at how good it is!
    Had the foie gras and it was rich, creamy and better than great.
    I’m gradually working my way thru the menu in order to go thru it again.
    And I cannot get enough of the antipasto and want more of the Pasta Fagioli.
    I would enterva “Man Vs Food” contest if the food was the gnocchi.

    I’ll say it again, restaurants owned and operated by a husband and wife combo are the best, and certainly Break The Chain.

  15. My wife and I, and another couple made it to Torino’s last night for their dinner menu.
    I absolutely appreciate a menu that leaves my perplexed.
    Which items will I order? There doesn’t seem to be an item I don’t want to try!
    I went in wanting, craving the stuffed calamari.
    But I also wanted the foie gras, the ossobuco, the chicken Marsala, the ravioli, the brisquet, the polenta parm, the ……….., well EVERYTHING!!!.
    My wife and I chose to split the antipasto platter which seemed the perfect combo of meats, cheeses olives tomato and a toasted goat cheese that was too good.
    My wife had the ossobuco and was in hog heaven. She even allowed me to taste and I have to agree that it was excellent.
    I had the stuffed calamari and to say I was happy with the choice is an understatement.
    It’s a dish that can easily be overdone to the point of chewing rubber but this version was tender and cooked to perfection.
    Daniela was charming and very helpful.
    When she took us to our table I looked her in the eye and mentioned that restaurants in NYC are required to allow patrons to inspect their kitchens.
    She immediately looked me right back and said “come, let’s go into the kitchen”
    That was good enough for me, her voice and demeanor was saying, “we’re proud of the kitchen” and that’s a very good thing.
    Finished with tiramisu that was as good as it gets.
    Since the menu had about 25 or so items I need to go back about that many times to go through the entire list.
    What a great idea!
    One more thing, a party of 6 can get a cooking lesson, given by Daniela, inn the kitchen and when you finish the lesson it’s dinner for the 6 folks with wine.
    seems like another future plan.

  16. My wife and I had an unusually excellent Italian meal at Torinos a couple of weeks ago. She had the Beef Brisquet (Spezzatino) and was very impressed with it, and I had an evening special risotto with shrimp and I absolutely loved it. My risotto was as good as any I’ve had in the USA. Their house wine in a carafe fit the bill well (pun intended). Service was excellent and friendly to boot. There was no “abandonment” a la another Italian ship’s Captain in the news of late!

    We’ll be heading back to Torinos before the end of the month. Yummy!

  17. Yes BOTVOLR, the Annual Road Runner Souper Bowl on January 28th from 1100AM ’til 2PM. At Road Runner HQs on Office.

    I have decided to go hatless too.
    Look for the “Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn” button I’ll have over my heart.

  18. Yo Bruce: I’m taking it you are referring to The Souper Bowl fundraiser for the RoadRunner Food Bank where these 40ish YumYum eateries
    http://www.rrfb.org/wp-content/upload/SB-Flyer1.pdf
    will offer feasting of their fare on 1/28 ! Alas, I’m awaiting word whether I’ll need to fill a previous committment or not. Yes, I’ll try to remember a Name Tag. Alas, I’m no longer a wearer of a regular cap, otherwise it would be a Yankee one…LOL

  19. Yo BOTVOLR,
    I’d like to think that ABQ is such a foodie paradise that we all need to follow the trail wherever it takes us and it sometimes takes us to places unlikely.
    I found myself fully absorbed by the delicious “yum yums” delivered to our table and allowed for the transfer to Turin, Italy. I sit so there is no outside view.
    This coming Friday we venture to the strip mall for a dinner meal which has me very up and excited.
    I will indulge myself with the stuffed calamari.
    And Pasta Fazool.
    And the antipasto plate.
    And the house made tiramisu.
    All in a strip mall!
    Will you be wearing a name tag at The Souper Bowl?
    I’ll have on my Brooklyn Dodger baseball cap with a “let’s go Giants” button!

  20. Eh….PastaFazool to The Bruce:
    Y’all need to step it up by having the Bucatini and Sausages which I indulged myself in on my maiden visit to this joynt and their relatively new adventure into Nighttime Cookery. While I typically favor Angel Hair, the ‘fat’ pasta was a pleasant alternative per its sauce. Nevertheless, The Sausage, beyond its taste in and of itself, adds a nice Kick to what we come to expect…lust after?….in New Mexico.
    Beyond that, I surreptitiously espied neighboring tables where folks seemed to relish their forkfuls of whatever Yum Yums they chose to delight themselves therewith.
    If some of Y’all reading this checked out the location and are like me and a bit leery about places establishing themselves in ‘strip’ mall type of place, consider my guess as to their initial forward looking…savvy…. business plan: Provide Breakfast & Lunch that would appeal to employees who have a bit more sophisticated palate per being employed in more sophisticated settings of their surroundings. Voila….a Natural! Step inside and you will find…Fluorophobics need not fear!….a sophisticated setting for what you’d expect for fine dining! Beyond that, if you were in LA, Boston, NYC you’d have to pay 15-20 bucks just to park your car to walk a couple of blocks instead of being within a few steps to enter!!!!
    Lest I forget and as noted, you will have the opportunity to experience being caught by warm, New Mexican Dust Devil….aka La Daniela.
    “Chow!”

  21. Stopped by Torino’s for some take out lunch on Wednesday. Last time we stopped by for lunch we ended up having dinner items that sounded, and turned out to be as good as any Italian meals anywhere. Great Bucatini all Amatriciana made the traditional way with Guanciale, Spezzatino over Polenta and an Antipasto for two.
    All exceptional in every way.
    This visit was solely for lunch items.
    A terrific Spicy Tomato soup and an equally great panini with Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Tomato and a house made mayonnaise with just the right amount of tang.
    I was asked if I wanted it hot or cold and took it home cold to heat on my panini press.
    What a fabulous sandwich!
    All that’s left for the my wife and me is to have dinner there to work our way through the entire menu.
    A labor of amore!

  22. My wife and I had lunch at Torinos today and everything we’ be heard about it is true
    I had to make some very difficult choices.
    An old favorite of mine, stuffed calamari will have to wait until our next visit (Yes, there will be a next and a next and so on and so on) will I indulged myself with the terrific Bucatini alla Amatriciana. There really is no substitute for guanciale although many recipes allow for substituting pancetta or bacon. It was superb in its original form.
    My wife chose chose the beef brisquet (spazzatino) and we were going to do a mid meal swap but she seemed reluctant after the first bite limiting me to one taste.
    We began our lunch with the antipasto for two and could not have been happier.
    Daniella spent a few minutes with us and it reaffirmed my felling that many good restaurants have an active husband and wife team contributing to the success of the eateries.
    I took a pint of pasta fagioli to go and anticipate another excerpt item from Torinos.
    I wish we had room for desserts.
    It’s another reason to return and sooner not later.
    One more thing, the service was excellent.

  23. We really enjoy the food and atmosphere at Torino’s – and expecially the warm and friendly greeting we get from Daniela each time we visit. She and husband Maxime really make us feel like we are dining with good friends when we visit.
    We had dinner there on Saturday and enjoyed the Rib-eye for 2.
    Our steak was expertly prepared to a perfect medium rare by the chef and was acompanied by an excellent shallot reduction sauce which was a perfect partner to the entree.

  24. We LOVE Torino’s – We work in Journal Center every day and get to take a short walk down for breakfast, drinks, lunch or recently limited dinner service- Italian Syrup flavored Lemonaid – all FRESH – CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS! What is NOT TO LOVE! The service is inpeccable yet it has a very authentic and family feel to it – They are SO WELCOMING! Friendly. They have a little store front that has beautiful dried pastas and other items. I will tell you that before EASTER you need to order your chocolate eggs that are hand painted – WHAT a WONDERFUL and unique gift!

  25. A breath of freshness… dishes prepared and presented in an environment that is inviting, pleasant, and wait staff who understand customer service. Chef Maxime and Daniela, owners of Torino’s © Home, embrace food preparation with affection and respect and their restaurant guests know it. Thanks for coming to Albuquerque (Journal Market Center) and introducing Northern Italian (less red sauce) dishes with artistry which are gastronomically pleasing. Ciào…

  26. I’m interested to hear from anyone who attended the Torinos@Home inaugural Friday dinner – I was late trying to book a reservation and am now looking forward to next Friday’s menu!

    1. Hello Bruce

      My friend Ryan Scott, host of New Mexico’s coolest radio show Beat The Chain, attended Torinos’ inaugural dinner and was absolutely blown away by the fabulous menu. During the July 16th episode, he raved about the three course dinner he enjoyed so much and encouraged listeners to make their reservations quickly for next Friday. I’ll be there.

      Don’t forget to visit the Break the Chain Web site where Ryan will be posting a recording of the show.

      Gil

  27. The food is prepared with loving care, the service is great, and they’ve got some of the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. Torino’s @ Home is simply delightful.

  28. The tiramisu is home made and excellent. All the desserts are homemade with fresh ingredients and very good. Perfect for a special event.
    I’ve been there twice and plan to go again this week!
    I appreciate restaurants that have fresh quality ingredients. they are so hard to find. So many cut corners, yet here is a family dedicated to good food without exception. I love this place and can’t wait to get back there. I’ve brought my business partners, one of which loves Italian style food, and he said this is the best place in Albuquerque. I agree.

  29. Tried this place out for lunch with my friend Tom yesterday. Outstanding! I had the Tagliatelle with the brisket sauce and it was great. I could easily go eat this again right now. The entire menu looks great and I’ll be back many times. If you have any interest in good food…go here and support this restaurant!

  30. Great! Another restaurant that I would love to eat at but only open weekdays for lunch and it’s about 40 minutes from my workplace in the southeast part of the city.

  31. We tried this for lunch today. We had high expectations due to your review and others comments. What a disappointment!
    I was expecting more choices in pasta but the only the ravioli was beef, none of those in your review. I ended up having the 3 Formaggi which is a 3 cheese grilled cheese sandwich. The cheese was good but the bread was way too brown and crisp.
    My hubby got the Spezzatino e pappardelle which is beef brisket and noodles. It seemed more Eastern European than Italian. Very blah!
    The house salad was small.
    The staff was nice, the only redeeming factor.
    They kept their Santa Fe prices too.
    We won’t be back.

  32. My husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing Torino’s @ Home this morning for breakfast. What a welcome addition for a starved foodie. Service is excellent and personable, but the food is outstanding. This is a restaurant with food that would normally be found in a large cosmopolitan city. We each had a different frittata both excellent. Perfectly prepared and so tasty. Attention to detail is very evident in this couple’s approach to everything from the coffee to the homemade plum jam with cardarmon for the toasted ciabatta bread. We are so happy that they decided to locate to ABQ. Lunch next week is definitely on the calendar. Much success to Daniela and Maxime in their new location!

  33. My husband and I had lunch there today. Torinos @ Home is a GEM. The staff are exceptional. I had a hot Piemontese – hot panini with spek, fontina, grilled eggplant, red onion, EVOO, and seasoning. WOW! Such a treat. My husband had the spezzatino ravioli- braised brisquet ravioli. The food was phenomenal. The flavors were balanced and filing. The service was excellent for the area. Daniela checked on us frequently. We also had the tiramisu— oh my goodness!! It was light and airy but full of flavor.

    Torinos @ Home is a must and we will definitely return many many times again.

    Thanks Daniela!!

  34. I have to agree with Dave P. The ” bustling” nature of the business conducted at the Journal center commerical complex was too much for me. It was so loud, and there were always people walking in and out of the different restaurants. It reminded me of an amusement park; there were so many people loudly talking and moving about between restaurants.

    The food is excellent. However, the service was constrained to the point where our ice tea started out cold but became warm due to inattention (which wasn’t their fault, they were just too crowded). I didn’t have the heart to tap on a waiter shoulder; they were all either taking orders, delivering orders, greeting people, and trying to ensure customer satisfaction.

    We’ll order pickup from them, but I’ll never dine in again. Ear drum bursting noises of a din of ambient conversations, mostly about work and commerce, made me miserable. This is extremely unfortunate because the owners and food are incredible.

  35. Daniela mentioned they weren’t open at night because they are there from morning til afternoon (so nice that the owners are actually present all the time, working and interacting with everyone! SO great) They work all day and do catering so they prolly have to rest sometime =) I wonder if that shopping center is even open at night considering the location. I have a feeling its not.
    But… you can get fresh pasta “to go” if you want to eat Torinos at night, we got pasta and a pint of the brisket sauce to have for dinner @ home – SOOOOO goood,
    The brisket sauce is amazing!!!

    and, It’s so funny! I told my hubby I wished we had a place as good as Cafe Green for a quick panini near our house, and guess what? My dreams came true, Torinos is right near where I live and they have awesome panini! w00t!

    Can you tell I love this place? <3 Next time I want to try the Tiramisu, mmm.

  36. Your reviews neveer lead me astray, Gil. This place is close to my office and I had lunch there yesterday. Fabulous. I am a big guy, so the only thing I wish is that the portions were a little bigger!
    I’ll become a regular at this place.
    Torinos, Tickles & Snooks Wings ‘n Things, and Sushiya are my three favorite new restaurants in Albuquerque right now.

  37. Why, why can’t they be open at night???? Some of us work too far away to try this wonderful sounding spot….

  38. Bon appetite!!! Having met Daniela when she opened Torinos’ @ Home in Santa Fe, the ABQ location will become a tradition. The combination… Daniela in the front of the house, Maxime in the kitchen, and the nutritious and fresh ingredients all come together for a scrumptious taste of Italy that is not to be missed. Location is “easy in and out” with plenty of parking. Torinos’ @ Home offers ABQ residents the opportunity to experience Italy’s warmth with exceptionally prepared fare. Welcome to ABQ, Daniela and Maxime!!!

  39. I went there for lunch and agree heartily with all that’s been said. Great service, great food, and all that goes with it.

    My only nit: it’s noisy inside. The interior is acoustically hard and every sound rebounds. If there are small children present (as there were in my case) it’s naturally louder. Some fabric hangings, or a treatment of the ceiling might help.

    Otherwise, it’s really, really good. I’ll be back…

  40. Hello, Maxime & Daniela, Wow, just looking at those dishes make me cry ! We miss you in Santa Fe so much, all the wonderful delicious dishes, pasta & croissant !! If I can drive again, I will be coming to you everyday ! We got to come to see you & eat, eat & eat. Tante cose. elizabeth of anta Fe

  41. I joined a couple good friends to have lunch at Torinos @Home today. I ordered the Tagliatelle Gorgonzola since I am both a blue cheese and gorgonzola lover but yet to have it on pasta. I was excellent! Just the right amount of the cream sauce; my initial fears of loaded overwhelming sauce as in what i thought would be similar to alfredo sauce were quickly abated when I tried it. The perfect amount of seasoning. The pasta was delicious, I just wish there was more of it! I also enjoyed the bottomless bread basket, yes a major weakness for me. The dipping oil with the interesting chili pepper gave it an exquisite taste to it. I think to make the meal even better would be adding a house salad to main menu entrees. And finally, a surprise Italian dessert sampler would leave a good memory while the restaurant is in its honeymoon phase. Welcome to Albuquerque!

  42. My family and I went to Torinos @ Home the Saturday of memorial day weekend. We were treated to a wonderful meal and gracious service. The ravioli was sublime, the tiramisu delicate and the sandwiches fantastic and simple. This is northern Italian food at its finest. Simple ingredients that are prepared lovingly and treated with respect. We will frequent Torinos often. You would be wise to do the same.

  43. Gil, thanks for all the great reviews on the site. My family and I are going to check this place out ASAP. It sounds delicious!

  44. Gil, the only thing better than having Torino’s in ABQ is the food itself, the great new location with a beatiful patio, and Daniela engaging personality and Maxime’s food!

    We had lunch at the new location and it was excellent! We split a House Salad that was fresh and dressed with just enough of Torino’s Vinagrette. My husband had Grigliata Di Pesce which was superb! As any local knows, getting quality seafood here in the SW is a task. The grilled grouper, swordfish and Scampi grilled shrimp was a delight. I had Spessatino with Rigatoni Pasta. The meat was tender and tasty, the pasta al dente and the gravy was a perfect blend of tomato and was a deep rich flavor and color. We had Tiramisu for desert which was excellent as well.

    We went back for breakfast this morning and were just as happy! I had a 3 egg Pancetta Frittata with mozzarella, parsley, roasted potatoes. It came with a Wolf’s bagel or toast, I had the sesame seed bagel.

    My husband had Torino’s Breakfast on a Green Chile Bagel. It was made with a 2 egg Frittata with goat cheese, artichokes, pancetta. He loved it.

    The coffee, was a rich smoky Italian dark roast and was smooth and bold.

    I highly recomend heading over to Torino’s for Breakfast, Lunch or even coffee and a pastry. This time of year, sitting on the patio and enjoying the lush greenery is perfect!

  45. My husband I went there today for lunch, and discovered they were gone. My husband was so depressed to find them up and gone, that we picked the nearest restaurant and drowned our sorrows in burgers and onion rings. This is a great travesty for our town, and we wish Daniela and her family the best.

    1. Hello Bridgett

      I just spoke with Daniela who informed me that Torinos will be moving to Albuquerque, hopefully within the next couple of months. Negotiations are in the works for a place with more ample parking and more space. She encourages all the many fans of her restaurant to subscribe to the Torinos newsletter for more information on the upcoming move. Santa Fe’s loss is definitely Albuquerque’s gain.

      Gil

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