Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio

Just when you think you’ve seen it all and you think nothing else can possibly been done to exploit the versatility in pizza, something comes along which surprises you. One such example is the “make your own pie” proposal by the entrepreneurial Kramerica Industries, a proposal which prompted extensive water cooler discussions.

Flamboyant CEO Cosmo Kramer envisioned a pizzeria in which “we give you the dough, you smash it, you pound it, you fling it in the air; and then you get to put your sauce and you get to sprinkle it over your cheese, and they–you slide it into the oven.” His attempts at securing funding falter over a dispute as to whether cucumbers can be pizza toppings.

The classy interior of Nicky V’s

The aforementioned scenario transpired in an episode of Seinfeld, the “show about nothing.” While the “make your own pie” concept has some fundamental flaws (people shoving their arms into a 600-degree oven), it does illustrate one of the few things that haven’t actually been done with pizza in the United States. Nicole “Nicky” Villareal didn’t have any uncommon business model in mind when she and her husband set out to launch Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio.

She wanted a true neighborhood pizzeria, the type of which she enjoyed so much during her travels throughout Europe where dining is regarded as a social event. In Europe, friends and family often linger for hours, enjoying dining and discourse in welcoming cafes and sidewalk patios. That’s the spirit she wanted to convey with her pizzeria. That’s the spirit that readers of Albuquerque The Magazine discerned in Nicky V’s when they named it Albuquerque’s very best new restaurant for 2010. Nicky has the experience to pull off her dreams, having served on the operational management side of several restaurants though Nicky V’s is her first venture in a sole ownership role.

Raviolo Fritti (Fried Ravioli and warm marinara sauce)

Nicky V’s is is about a mile away from restaurant row on Coors Bypass where a phalanx of mediocre chain restaurants blights the landscape. It is situated in the same corner space which once housed two other pizza restaurants–a middling quality Florida-based chain named New York Pizza Department (NYPD) and a local, non-related favorite named JC’s New York Pizza Department. The 3,300 square-foot restaurant includes an east-facing patio featuring spectacular views of the cottonwoods surrounding the Rio Grande as well as the breathtaking Sandias.

Nicky V’s may have an old-fashioned customer-centric attitude, but the ambiance bespeaks of contemporary modernity. You won’t find any of the stereotypical trappings–such as red and white checkered tablecloths–of neighborhood pizzerias of old, but you will find an old-fashioned attitude in which good service and friendliness abounds. Nicky makes the rounds frequently to ensure her patrons are enjoying the dining experience while the wait staff is on-the-spot with a recommendation or a refill.

Il Manchango – Fuji apples, dates, Arugula, radicchio, toasted pecans, endives and Manchango cheese with a citrus vinaigrette

The walls are adorned with framed photographs of Venice, Rome and Orvietto taken by Nicky’s husband when they traveled throughout Europe during their one-year anniversary-slash-honeymoon. Traveling throughout Europe via Eurorail left an indelible impression on Nicky. It helped establish her vision for the type of restaurant she would eventually open.

The menu includes an array of familiar and innovative offerings. Appetizers include throwbacks such as fritto misto (breaded calamari, onion rings, fried zucchini) as well as the seemingly de rigueur anti-pasto platter (cured meats, roasted peppers, olives, fresh mozzarella) and pita points and hummus (cucumber relish, Kalamata olives, hummus and warm pita). Raviolio Fritti, fried ravioli with warm marinara, each of five the size of an iPhone, are a popular favorite.

Antipasto: prosciutto, salami, roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella cheese

7 August 2010: The Ravioli Fritti are lightly breaded then fried to a golden sheen and served in a conical wrought iron basket. Each ravioli is sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and oregano and is stuffed with a rich cheese blend. The consistency of each ravioli is just slightly crispy, but not crunchy. The marinara is quite good, the type of which would go very well on a pasta dish.

12 September 2011: Another excellent starter, one of the very best of its genre in the city, is the Antipasto platter, a plate brimming with crostini, prosciutto, salami, roasted peppers, olives and mozzarella. By themselves, each individual item on the platter is quite good. In combinations with one another, they’re all even better. Top a crostini with a slice of prosciutto, spread on some of the near butter soft mozzarella then crown it all with the roasted pepper and olives and you’ve got an improvised sandwich of the first order. You can also each component immensely by itself as the high quality shines with each and every bite.

Pita Points and Hummus

20 July 2014: Appetizers at Nicky V’s tend to be not only beautifully plated, but very generously portioned. Save for the Raviolo Fritti, the appetizers are pretty much intended to be shared. That’s certainly the case with the Pita Points and Hummus, a manhole cover sized plate artistically plated with warm pita wedges, cucumber relish (cucumbers, kalamata olives, onions, Roma tomatoes), feta cheese and hummus on a bed of mixed greens. The cucumber relish is delicious and would make a great salad by itself, but goes especially well with the Feta cheese because of how significantly its flavor profile clashes with the fetid fromage. The hummus is very garlicky but with a discernible tang from a squeeze or two of lemon.

Pasta dishes are adorned with a variety of sauces: white wine pasta cream sauce, mascarpone and lemon butter sauce, roasted pepper Parmesan cream sauce, fresh herb Veloute sauce and a cracked pepper pesto cream sauce. None of the pasta entrees are made with a traditional “red” sauce (marinara or meat sauce). Even the lasagna is made with a Bolognese meat sauce.

The Umbria - Truffle oil, smoked Cheddar, goat cheese, prosciutto, caramelized onions, garlic crunch and pine nuts
The Umbria – Truffle oil, smoked Cheddar, goat cheese, prosciutto, caramelized onions, garlic crunch and pine nuts

The pizza menu is segmented into a “Smart” category and a “Savvy” category, perhaps an indication that you can’t go wrong regardless of from which pizza you order. The pizza dough is scratch-made in-house using a sourdough starter that is allowed to ferment for a day before being rolled into dough. The dough is made from “the finest flours milled.” Toppings are of “only the best quality, using local and organic whenever possible.”

Only one size pizza is offered, a twelve-inch pie that’s perhaps a bit too big to be called a personal pizza, but may be too small to be shared. Eat half at the restaurant and take the other half home; this pizza is just as good out of the fridge as it is out of the oven. Pies range from the traditional (Margherita with red sauce, mozzarella slices and fresh basil) to the locally inspired (the New Mexican, made with red sauce, cheese blend, pepperoni, Autumn green chili and garlic crunch) to the innovative.

Tre – red sauce, Italian sausage, cheese blend, roasted red peppers, oregano

In the latter category are pizzas topped with non-traditional ingredients, the likes of which few pizzerias in Albuquerque offer. These toppings range from the rich and sublime (the Novara includes gorgonzola, pears, ricotta cheese, toasted walnuts and olive oil) to the truly unique (the Siena is crafted from red sauce, Yukon potatoes, roasted red peppers, pancetta and fresh basil). It’s not every pizza for which wine pairings might even be a consideration, but Nicky can tell you exactly which wine and pizza combinations complement one another best.

The restaurant’s phone number, by the way, is 890-WINE (9463), but don’t expect to find the cheap Chinati bottles which seem to adorn the red and white checkerboard tablecloths at the stereotypical mom-and-pop Italian joints. In fact, Nicky V’s earned Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2012 in recognition of the restaurant’s more than 125 offerings covering all the reaches of the globe. With our practice of never drinking adult beverages if we’re driving, we could only imagine what red vintage might have gone best with the Umbria, a pizza crafted with truffle oil, smoked Cheddar, goat cheese, Prosciutto, caramelized onions, garlic crunch and pine nuts.

Limited Time Special Served on St. Patrick’s Day: Gravy, ground beef, peas, mashed potato and Cheddar cheese (Photo courtesy of Bruce “Senor Plata” Silver)

5 June 2010: What my mind’s eye is still reliving is the wonderful texture of the pie. Nicky V’s pizzas are thin-crusted, but not waifishly thin. What sets them apart are their crunchiness which is wholly unlike the cracker-crust variety of pizzas. It’s a crunchiness that doesn’t offset the pizza’s chewiness if that’s possible. The Umbria is a terrific pizza with flavor explosions in every bite as excellent ingredients compete with each other for the rapt attention of your taste buds.

5 June 2010: Another revelation in flavor appreciation is the Chieti, a masterpiece of a pie topped with garlic cream, a cheese blend, roasted butternut squash, Gorgonzola and baby arugula. The top topper is butternut squash, a creamy, fine-textured, orange-fleshed squash with a taste vaguely resembling sweet potato. The arugula and its characteristic light bitter flavor seems to bring out the pungency of the Gorgonzola, a blue cheese with a surprisingly sweet aftertaste. The creator of this pie is an inspired genius! Alas, it is no longer on the menu, but it’s much missed (at least by me).

The New Mexican: red sauce, cheese blend, pepperoni, green chile, garlic crunch

12 September 2011: Most pizza restaurants throughout the Land of Enchantment pander to New Mexican tastes for green chile by offering it as either an optional topping or using it as the centerpiece of a specialty pizza. Unfortunately, the green chile often has no more bite than parsley. Nicky V’s offers two pizzas with names near and dear to the heart of many Duke City diners: the New Mexican (red sauce, cheese blend, pepperoni, green chile, garlic crunch) and the Lobo (red sauce, Italian sausage, green chile, red onions, cheese blend, fresh roasted red peppers). The New Mexican will bring pride to any state citizen who loves chile. It will also bring sweat to your brow and maybe even singe your tongue. Not only does the green chile have heat, the red sauce may include red chile powder and even the pepperoni has a kick to it. Piquancy aside, this is a very good pizza that will impress itself upon your taste buds and your memories.

7 August 2010: The Tre, an Italian word that means three, is made up of more than three ingredients: red sauce, Italian sausage, cheese blend, roasted red peppers and oregano. Those ingredients are of superb quality. The red sauce and Italian sausage are as good as any on any pizza in the Duke City. The red sauce has a slight piquant bite with just a bit of sweetness and very little acidity despite the obvious fresh tomato base. The sausage has a nice fennel-rich flavor. The roasted red peppers are nonpareil, perfection itself. As my friend Larry McGoldrick has observed, Nicky V’s pizzas are as good as any thin-crust pizza you’ll find in Chicago…and yes, the Windy City has outstanding thin crust pizza!

Orvietto – smoked bacon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh basil, Crimini mushrooms, peas and pine nuts tossed with cavatappi with a white wine pasta cream sauce

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day 2011, Nicky V’s introduced–for a limited time only–a pizza special citizens of the British Isles would have scarfed-up though Nicky admitted she had a hard time talking customers into trying it. One intrepid diner who did try the Shepherd’s Pie Pizza was my adventurous friend Señor Plata. He ranted about this pizza, a thin-crust canvass with gravy slathered on instead of tomato sauce and topped with mashed potatoes, ground beef and Cheddar cheese. Larry McGoldrick had recommended Nicky offer a corned beef and cabbage pizza which might also have received a cool reception from diners who wouldn’t try it. Some year, I’ll be there to sample whatever Nicky contrives for St. Patrick’s Day.

7 August 2010: As outstanding as the pizza is, Nicky invites her diners to try the pasta, recommending most highly the Orvietto, an amazing pasta crafted from smoked bacon (pancetta) crimini mushrooms, peas and cavatappi noodles in a white wine pasta cream sauce. The cavatappi, a double-elbow, corkscrew or spiral macaroni formed into a spiral tube shape with groves on their outside surface, is perfectly prepared, just beyond al dente. The white wine reduction melds with the crimini mushrooms and the beautifully smoked Italian bacon to form flavor combinations that dance on your taste buds. The sauce is just perfect, neither too rich or too subtle. This is one of the best pasta dishes we’ve had in New Mexico.

Il Adelaide: Garlic, yellow onions, marinated prawns, roasted corn, bell peppers and andouille sausage in a Creole pasta cream sauce

As fans of Garfield, once the world’s most widely syndicated comic, know, the rotund cat loves lasagna. Once confronted by his owner Jon about having eaten four boxes of lasagna, Garfield’s hiccuped retort was, “It’s not my fault. They started it.” Garfield would want at least four boxes of Nicky V’s lasagna, a simple blend of lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese topped with mozzarella cheese made complex with a Bolognese meat sauce that the chef tends to for six to eight hours. This is no ordinary meat sauce. The Bolognese is true to time-honored traditions. It’s also quite good.

Another complex entree prepared exceptionally well is Nicky V’s Chicken Veloute, an entree made with one of the true classic sauces of French cuisine. The sauce finds its genesis in the word velvety, an apt term for the sauce which is made from a light chicken stock thickened with a blond roux. Nicky V’s rendition is also made with an onion confit (onions reduced to an intensified flavor), roasted garlic, Crimini mushrooms, chicken and spinach fettuccine. My friend Señor Plata was surprised to find a dish of such complexity and depth of flavor in an Italian restaurant. I was surprised at how good it was.

Gnocci: roasted chicken, artichokes, grilled leeks and spinach served with gnocchi in a roasted pepper parmesan sauce drizzled with truffle oil

14 December 2010: Save for the fabulous Orvietto which is in stratified company as one of the very best pasta dishes in Albuquerque, my favorite of Nicky V’s outstanding pasta dishes is the gnocchi, one of the most complex renditions of this dish I’ve ever had with roasted chicken, artichokes, grilled leeks, red onions and spinach served with gnocchi in a roasted pepper Parmesan sauce drizzled with truffle oil. The gnocchi are rich dumplings with a texture so light they practically melt in your mouth. The sauce is lick-the-plate good with flavor accents that impress themselves on your taste buds.

20 July 2014: Chicken Parmesan is an old school entree some Italian restaurants (especially the haughty Northern Italian restaurants) are “too uppity” to serve. Though it may seem to be a simple dish, it can be very challenging to make well. Nicky V’s rendition is made with a very thick chicken breast. Too long in the oven and the breading chars. Not long enough in the oven and the inside of the chicken borders on raw. We experienced both extremes, but in the process wound up falling in love with the side spaghetti. More specifically, we fell in love with the spaghetti sauce which is made from tomatoes grown in Moriarty, New Mexico. The sauce has a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess without the oft-characteristic acidity of some tomatoes. It’s an excellent sauce.

Note: Even though our experience with the Chicken Parmesan wasn’t up to the exceedingly high Nicky V standards, the staff was very accommodating, professional and kind when we sent the dish back.

Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti

28 March 2011: Conspicuous by virtue of its name is Il Adelaide which frankly sounds more Australian than it does Italian. Rather than name it for an Italian landmark, the chef who conceptualized the dish named it for Nicky’s spicy little daughter Adelaide. Il Adelaide is indeed spicy, courtesy of a pasta cream sauce redolent with Cayenne peppers. Other ingredients include garlic, yellow onions, marinated prawns, roasted corn, bell peppers and andouille sausage. It’s a complex dish which pays tribute to the lively flavors of Louisiana. With the 2011 demise of the Cajun Kitchen, Il Adelaide is a comforting thought that you can still get a semblance of Cajun-Creole cooking in the Duke City.

Six salads are also available. These aren’t the types of salads that remind you that the word “diet” is simply the word “die” with the letter “t” added at the end. These are the type of salads of which you can make a thoroughly enjoyable meal. Three of the salads–a house salad, a Caesar salad and “the Wedge”–are pretty standard, though what will set them apart at Nicky V’s is the quality of ingredients and their freshness. The other three salads are crafted with ingenuity and flair. All are available in half- or full-sizes.

Joe Diaz’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Meatballs, Marinara, Parmesan and Provolone all stacked tall and sent into Nicky V’s brick oven until bubbly hot!

5 June 2010: The Il Manchango is festooned with Fuji apples, dates, Arugula, radicchio, toasted pecans, endives and manchango cheese with a citrus vinaigrette. This is an ingredient-fest combining several different taste and texture sensations–the sweet tartness of the Fuji apples; the sugary sweetness of fresh dates; the tangy zestiness of arugula; the crunchy saltiness of the toasted pecans; the unique buttery-bitter spiciness of endives and the pungent saltiness of the manchango drizzled with the citrusy sweetness of a vinaigrette.

This is an outstanding salad especially if you like adventurous taste discernment, flavor combinations and a variety of textures in one plate. It’s also a fun salad to eat. You can use the endive leaves to form a sort of lettuce taco in which you can pile on other ingredients.

Tiramisu (Espresso and rum-soaked lady fingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder

9 October 2012: For lunch only (11AM to 4PM), Nicky v’s offers four paninis, all built on French (not Italian) lightly toasted hoagie rolls served with a bag of Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar chips (or a side salad for two dollars more) and a pepperoncini. One of the most popular of the four is the Joe Diaz’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, named for KOAT-TV’s popular meteorologist who frequents the restaurant. This panini is constructed from meatballs, marinara, parmesan and provolone stacked tall and sent to the oven until bubbly hot.

5 June 2010: Nicky V’s desserts, many made in-house (sounds like a repeating theme) are par excellence, a quadrumvirate of fine-dining quality sweets. The tiramisu, espresso and rum-soaked lady fingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder–is an exemplary rendition of this popular Italian cake. It is neither too sweet nor too moist, but sufficient in both qualities to make it one of the best tiramisu in Albuquerque.

Profiterole – puffed pastry dough filled with a vanilla pastry cream dipped in chocolate

7 August 2010: A recent addition to the superb Nicky V’s menu is gelato, which is much more than Italian ice cream, having a lower butterfat and sugar content than ice cream. Texturally, it is much denser than ice cream with a much more intense and concentrated flavor than American ice cream. High-quality artisan gelato retains its texture (from delicate ice crystals) for only a few days which is why great gelato is usually made on the premises or at least locally, not shipped from afar. Nicky V’s acquires its gelato from Van Rixel Brothers Gelato, the best local source possible. It’s outstanding! In fact, the sea salt and caramel gelato may be the very best gelato we’ve had in Albuquerque. It’s Nicky’s favorite and mine, too. Flavors will be rotated weekly.

5 June 2010: The profiteroles, puffed pastry dough filled with a vanilla pastry cream dipped in chocolate, are also quite wonderful. Even the whipped cream is made in-house (as if that needs to be said) and it’s some of the best we’ve had. The profiteroles are rich and delicious.

Sea salt and caramel gelatto

In business for just a few years years, Nicky V’s Pizzeria has earned accolades and honors restaurants in business for much longer can only aspire to. In July, 2011, Nicky was presented the award for “Best Small Business 2011” by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. Her terrific restaurant was later selected to compete in the “Chef Knockout” competition, an Iron Chef style head-to-head cooking competition pitting some of the city’s very best restaurants. The sky is the limit for Nicky V’s, already one of Albuquerque’s very best restaurants of any genre!

Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio
9780 Coors Blvd, N.W., Suite A
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 8 October 2012
1st VISIT: 5 June 2010
BEST BET: Chieti, Umbria, Il Manchango, Profiterole, Tiramisu, Sea salt and caramel gelatto, Orvietto, Tre, Lasagna, Chicken Veloute, Gnocchi, Il Adelaide, Spaghetti

Nicky V's Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio on Urbanspoon

43 thoughts on “Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria & Patio – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. I noticed this weekend as I passed Nicky V’s on Coors that there is different signage – at least on the west facing (towards Coors) side of the building. Pi Brewery or something like that. Did Nicky V just expand her offerings, or did they close up? I didn’t get a chance to read the signage all that well. As anyone who has driven in that area on a weekend can attest – it’s hard enough just trying to keep your eyes on the road and avoid the crazy drivers!

    1. There’s a terrific article on the transformation from Nicky V’s to Pi Brewing. As explained in the article “At the beginning of 2016, they (Nicole and Greg) decided to scrap the plan and change the branding instead. They were having a hard time branding Nicky V’s and Pi Brewing together, as well as getting name recognition for the beer, so Nicky V’s has now become Pi Brewing. New signage went up in late January and the new logo is painted on the outside of the building.” Best “Everything else remains the same, including the menu.”

      That area does indeed seem to invite a convergence of Albuquerque’s worse drivers on weekends. I traverse that danger zone every Saturday with my dogs to sate my Cafe Bella fix.

  2. Say, I don’t know why I didn’t think of having Hot Wings in an Italian bistro before?! Move over KFC; you don’t know “Hot” and that says nothing of Mrs. Nicky’s haute couture last eve. Probably best to have a brew with “Hot” instead of wine. Will have to try the Spicy Asian and Chipotle Honey next times.

  3. I had lunch here today, and it was excellent. Hot wings (with bleu cheese, natch) and the Milan pizza that I added pepperoni to. Both were great.
    Also a shout out to Nicky V’s and Fat Squirrel for being some of my newest clients!
    Break the chain and eat at an excellent locally owned option for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow!

  4. For those seeking the guidance of a sommelier (knowledgeable wine gal) for just-the-right pairing advice, owner Nicole has a terrific palate. I had the pleasure of competing with her in Albuquerque The Magazine’s Best Sommelier in ABQ Competition 2014.

  5. We will have to get by Nicky V’s shortly but I probably won’t order a PBR (clean living you know).

  6. El Brute! Been waiting for ya…LOL…as later this AM (I love coincidences!) I saw this on the internet which shamed me for my sorta being too humble about The PBR, as PBR’s inclusion, not once but twice, recognizes its stature!!! Of course some may claim the results are suspect in that NM of all places, didn’t make it for anything…beer, wine, alcohol…LOL
    ~ Aah yes the 1st FOG…my fuzzy memory thinks we talked about taking some action and wallowed in not taking any action (please note my not making comparisons about anything…LOL), but it was actually Jim Millington who stomped his foot down…took the bull by the horns to declare an actual “Come if can, sorry if ya can’t” time, date and place, thus deserving of the honor in reality. Thanks for thinking of me tho!
    Speaking of wonderful beers, once Nicky gets their brewing up n flowing, I think it should be on a short list for a FOG whereby sample glass tasting of the offerings might be a secondary focus in addition to doing some of the pastas and pizzas family style

  7. Bob-A-Loo,
    With all the wonderful beers available here in the Duke City I’m just surprised that cost (all by itself) leads you to PBR.
    Swilling swill for someone of your status makes us all look bad.
    With your cachet as the leading commentor on the leading food blog in ABQ I get the feeling you’re shaking down unsuspecting eatery owners for your seal of approval, which certainly can result in a discernible uptick in business.
    It’s very unbecoming of you to accept what can only be called bribes. Tsk Tsk.
    By the was B-A-L, you never weighed in on my claim that you were instrumental in bringing the first FOG dinner to fruition.
    Yeah, it was the humble Dog House but we had nowhere to go but up after that. For your efforts you should be recognized.

  8. Met up with my daughter (S-i-L/kids out of town) to intro her to the delights herein. Concurs with my Thumbs-Up for the Orvietto. In addition, we split a Fuji Salad which, like The O, is a delightful melange of tidbits like most dishes. Hmmm, new? bread served sliced…great.
    ~ Hospitable Mz. Nicky was on tap last night…and…(Ok, indulge my punny seque) excitedly noted they are gearing up to join ABQ’s ontap brewery scene which is getting much Kudos nationally. Unfortunately, being caught off guard a bit and not wishing to get barbs from El Brute about my unsophisticated taste for PBR, I was at a loss to ask about things like IPA, wheat, hops, chill haze or proof, hefe, malts, etc. Am sure, given Nicky’s attention to stuff, I can’t help but to think this will be a great accent to their pasta and pizza offerings.
    Oh, there was a delightful combo playing last night and, as usual, an attentive server.

    Meat loaf and grape jelly? and i do love a good meatloaf.
    And I’ve always preferred “less expensive” to cheap. Much less pejorative, kinder if you will.
    Do you really think that a 14 year old fire bird conveys a Rancher’ Club or a Bien Sur feeling? I’m more inclined to remember Welcome Back Kotter or the Ozzie and Harriet Show, or even Happy Days.

  10. Aaargh Geez El Brute… re your questioning my priority for rating places suggesting I put “cheap” primary!
    Please reflect in light of you’re bearing witness to my having spent mucho shekels for gas to truck on up to your Blade’s…and exclusively for Kevin’s weekend Specials, they are offered for more than the regular menu ! It’s also somewhat of a put down to my several visits/comments to the likes of Chez Bob or Axel; or like Favs of yours like Joe’s, M’Ts, and even Nicky’s.
    Alas, I confess: No I didn’t go for a $79(?) Kobe steak at The Falls(?) on 528; my absence apparently contributed to its downfall after just a few months as I was apparently hung up on munching on Scalo’s The Filetto…OH! Oh! the highest priced item on their menu…! in Kobe’s stead!!!! LOL
    ~ Re: “…. couldn’t give me a free PBR…” Seriously??? You put ice in beer!!! LOL
    ~ Re: “….your using some sort of inflation index does not take into consideration salary increases…” Eh, I can understand your skepticism because, of many calculators, I specifically chose your Government’s!!!! As best as I read it, it focuses on ‘goods AND services’ which I take to include ‘salaries’, many of which I pay part of Directly by my tipping! Alas, lest you skimmed over it, I also proffered that I believe vendors need to keep up with inflation, albeit in a more timely manner. (Also, I have no trouble, having the choice, paying up extra for avocados (etc.) for my avocado/bacon sandwiches on buttered toast given the ever growing drought in CA (increasing warnings thereof on CNN today!!!) as long as prices also g o d o w n when things are back to ‘normal’. This is preferable to having imports substituted, whereby our spent dollars are sent out of the country!)
    ~ In the end, I’m a slave of my Capricornian sign and its wiring. Have Fe, I do struggle to rebel, but try to keep a balance between my immediate sybarite, as Gil would say,
    pleasures and my responsibility to be the least of a burden on society or my kids, lest I might need “A Home”, per ( nurturing my (non inherited) nest egg. Re the latter: hope to pass a little bit on too, as my vision of the fiscal future is dim in terms of where we (they) are being taken fiscally per the shortsightedness of some voters. Lastly, I patronize some cheap places albeit the food may only be 3 Star quality as many are just trying to eke out a (responsibly honest) living (aka salary) by staying off the Dole as well, while at the same time helping to preserve my principal…MLOL! To that end, I will also use generously given (and greatly appreciated) coupons as I’m thinking savvy business people have factored them in to their operating budget. (Coupons: I guess that is an ingrained carry over from childhood when we excitedly bent over to pick up a shiny coppah(sic) whereby we could by lots of candy…or save…worth more for its content today than its face value!!!!, but still ignored to be picked up.)
    ~Thanks for reviewing this erudite clarification! Looking forward to seeing, if you’ll allow, Lady Graycee, at least, on Saturday!!!!
    Ps: OMG: we are such a paradox: Certainly the average observer standing outside of Trader Joe’s or La Montanita Co-op or Whole Foods watching me get into my Firebird (despite its being 14 years old!!!) but having a rough idea of its extravagant 18/25 MPG, would certainly think I’m off to Bien Sur, The Rancher’s Club, etc. and you are off to IHOP as evidenced by having no sense of “style” per getting into your Prius as being part of “the total non-experience” of even the simple act of driving! LOL
    PPS: Thanks, but if truth be told, I’m deferring trying your Heidi’s Organic Rasberry Jam as I think it would be a come-down from my more familiar Mediterranean Organics Organic Raspberry Preserves which you can order here:
    Yo! either may be great on a bagel, but there’s nothing to compare to pressing your fork into a dollop of Welch’s Grape Jelly…just to ‘wet’ it…. as an accompaniment to meatloaf!!! Oy Vey, but you don’t indulge in this cut of beef!

    My point is simple, I expect over time for all prices to go up. Not including loss leaders or a 40th anniversay celebration where prices for a week are rolled back to the date 40 years ago when the establishment was founded.
    Price for me is not a stand alone part of dining but part of the experience as is service and ambiance. Food taste and quality. As an example you couldn’t give me a free PBR with my meal.
    All things have to mesh like a fine tuned Firebird engine. I’ll bet when the Dog House opened for business their dogs were about a quarter, and what’s that a 1250% increase!
    I detect in your comments a different priority for rating the restaurants. Maybe tied for the number one priority are price and taste with price nosing out taste. Cheap Mediocre food served by a Beav look-alike falls into that category and is a loser.
    One more thing your using some sort of inflation index does not take into consideration salary increases, until this year doubling and redoubling and redoubling again of health care costs, property taxes, heating and cooling costs. Need I go on?
    And I never assume that experienced restaurant owners need my advice regarding menu or price and I think it would be presumptuous of me to think otherwise.
    Try some marsarpone on your bagel next time, it makes an ordinary schmear into a sweet roll especially with the addition of Heidi’s organic raspberry jam, or something equal.
    Splurge, my boy, splurge. No more Welches grape jelly for you, as the Jelly Nazi would say.

  12. Yo El Brute:
    Nicky’s: As you’ve noted re my Comments in general, Y’all are dealing with a complex operating system, grammar wise, to the bane of many teachers!
    Otherwise, I’m so pleased to read you taking a somewhat capitalistic slant in apparently taking umbrage with my Comment. I wholeheartedly agree that Nicky or any business needs to be ‘protective’ of their profit as it is, in effect, their salary…their means of making a living to survive, like I might do earning a salary being employed. Before writing my note, and regarding your reminder about rises in meat, milk, and eggs, I had taken a quick peek at the price of lettuce via Google where I saw nothing untoward causing such a, IMHO, spike, altho I foresaw the future possibility given the drought in CA. I can only comment re rises in milk. This past week I bought gallons for only $2.99 at Wal greens in contrast to a stable price of the past few years of $3.50ish, i.e. I’m leaving WallyMart out…LOL From a different angle: food places often bolster their bottom line by the ‘acceptable’/traditional practice of puffing up the price of tonic/soda, coffee, alcohol. Lo, maybe Nicky is doing that with that salad rather than raising the price of pizza or a Uni-dish like Orvietto as those s e e m to have stayed the same. While pizza is a unidish exception if you will, a salad with a pasta dish let’s me indulge myself in a unidish. So now if I go, albeit less often, to squelch an urge for e.g. an Orvietto, it will be without a salad and 4 bucks less in the Tab Tot and some change less in the Tip. Yo, I agree a business can charge Whatever it wants, but I’m under a compunction as well to protect my salary (sources of retirement income) as well. I wholeheartedly agree with a business keeping up with inflation. All I ask is they do it annually, albeit that screws up their option to list something as being $X.95! Using an “inflation calculator”, e.g., a $4 salad in ’00 (14 years ago!) would be 5.41 today.
    Bottom line: 6 months to a year, my miff may not matter as a new flock of people will have come in to dine and see 6 bucks as the thing…LOL Please consider in reviewing Comments on the Nicky’s site, mine might be considered the most splendiferous….Eh, as they say in your Brooklyn: Eh! forgive me! It ain’t personal, it’s just business!

  13. BOTVOLR,
    Welcome to the bright light of reality.
    Look at beef prices, milk prices, egg prices, etc.
    Perhaps it’s back to Prince spaghetti and ketchup days. Sounds like your bidding Missy Nicky a fond farewell.
    I hope your basic nutrician doesn’t suffer as you transition from healthy fare to a steady diet of DH GCCDs con grilled onions.
    May I suggest the always terrific Bahn Mi at Cafe De Lat, a culinary gem for about $3.50?
    It may have gone up to $3.75 in the months I haven’t been there but it still is a bargain and contains a few more food groups than the tube steak.

  14. Whoa! Lest I be mistaken and need a whop-upside-the-head, a 1/2 order of a plain-old House Salad has gone up 50%!!!??? from 4 to 6 Lira (or Euros, Pesos, Bucks)??? Please correct me if I’m wrong!! My SS hasn’t even gone up 2%! Alas, guess the drought in CA is really going to kick us in the ‘como se llama’! Ciao and Buona Fortuna Missy Nicky!!!

  15. Yo Bruce of B:
    Obsession? Wannabee-look-a-likes? Say, did I mention Sarah P.? Schoolboy crushes at my age? Just cuz your lucky….yes I said lucky…to have such a great ‘squeeze’ to rein in/mollify these foibles/“challenges” of ‘maturity’….Darn, I lost my train of thought! Anyway, I must say I appreciate Gil showing simpatico, sorta speak, during his review of Phil’s of SD!
    “…I should be looking at Lizbeth!…” Now that’s hitting low….LOL! At least Brown tried to reach across the aisle while encountering some wrath for not compulsively following his party line!
    Suzanna? Yes Bruce, while your subtle dig at her is noted, at least it shows you continue to have great taste (no offense Franco) at your age! Indeed, I still melt for a gal with bangs and especially one who’d be packin a 357 to protect me while on a date!!! (about 2:40 here ) Ok Ok! I’ll admit it, she needs to cut down on the sopapillas a bit!

  16. BOTVOLR,
    You have officially crossed over from star struck to obsession re The Beav.
    I thought stalking was against the law.
    And not satisfied to have one obsession you are now moving toward wannabes and look alikes of the Beav…..
    Schoolboy crushes at your age could be fatal.
    I’m just saying……..
    You should be looking at Elisabeth Warren or Susanna Martinez, or Betty White types.

  17. Had the Lucca Pizza: Italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon (with a half a House salad) as well as a chance to meet up with the ‘infamous’ Nicky V this visit. You almost need a net to catch her as she energetically flits around like a butter- or dragonfly from guest to guest, but be patient as she’ll soon land at your table to check out the progress and quality of your experience. (Not to imply wait staff haven’t in her absence!) Indeed, a most congenial owner/hostess (O/H) and per chit chat I engaged her in, including they’re now being the new sole owners of the Fat Squirrel in Rio Rancho …a personal Fav for their Fish n Chips… I can’t help but be impressed with the energy (have ya ever seen a Linda Beaver Toyota of Santa Fe commercial or met an Amy S., coincidentally a Linda look-a-like, recently honored by Fidelity Investments for her role as a PE teacher in ABQ munching at Nicky V‘s?) associated with Nicky’s interest/investment in not only what she serves, but also who is serving it along with employees having a quality experience as employees as well.
    Bottom line…IMHO…if you have an issue, this is one O/H who morphs into “Frasier” ala “I’m listening”. Oh! Oh! The Lucca was Sabraso!
    As always: “Ciao!”

  18. Lest I might say….if yaz haven’t noticed, it’s getting to be that time to once again enjoy…beyond the yum yum offerings….the exquisite view across the twinkling valley of ABQ at sunset…that Nicky’s patio, almost exclusively, offers in contrast to any others in ABQ!!! at no extra cost! Today however, lest ya overlook it, she also offers a Community Table you can opt for as you enter which I enjoyed this past weekend per the Craic which can ensue!!! (A term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent re pubs in Ireland! Oopsy, pardon the mixing of ethnic delights!)
    I.e. after the diminuitive Hostess courteously asked if these folks could be seated, I intoned that “Indeed! that is what this space is desingned for!” Bottom line: try seating there…solo or as a couple… to strike up sharing adventures, let alone other hidden eating delights about the Q, politics, or whatever. ‘Pastafajul’ and Slainte to Y’all and to dining mates Nicolle and Bob this past weekend!
    (Ahem, lest ya do not know, Nicky V and companion are apparently the sole owners of The Fat Squirrel on Southern in Rio Rancho where is served the Best Plank(s) of Fish n Chip at Community Tables as well!!

  19. Nicky Vs continues to please!
    Another great meal last night.
    We are so fortunate to have this gem on the west side.
    If you haven’t already seen or heard the news, Nicky V’s has recently won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, 2012.
    Congratulations to Nicole and Greg!

  20. Despite my shying away from unibowls of pasta, the ‘caption’ for
    Adelaide : “garlic, yellow onions, prawns, corn, bell peppers and andouille sausage in a creole seasoned cream sauce” lured me to return to one of a few places where, while you delight in your entree, you indulge in dessert…the view being eye-candy! Must admit, while constraining my druthers, Adelaide is a fine unidish worth repeating as particularly highlighted by The Sauce! (Suggestion: albeit I should’ve asked, would prefer an option of Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola crumbles to enliven the staid balsalmic dressing in lieu of the mozzarella slices…but maybe that’s just me.) Service? Again, efficient and befitting of the setting.

  21. As I cut Nicky V’s some slack in terms of her patio getting points per a discussion elsewhere of Best Patios, given hers, despite abutting a parking lot, gazes formidably out over the shimmering lights of the valley and/or The Purple Majesty at times, I needed to update the view being from memory. Alas, last eve Nuestros Vientos Diabólicos forced us inside where I chose to try the Gnocchi despite my long standing lack of hankering for a whole bowl of just one (ethnic) ‘food’…albeit it is a blend of pasta, chicken, artichoke. (Exception and Full Disclosure: I’ve no problem with a plate of only pierogies or fried clam strips.) Yowza…the gnocchi were hearty, as they should be, with the sauce being a delight. I tried to appease my need for variety with half a house salad con house dressing as a contrast. Alas, for me, and as a compliment to the gnocchi’s sauce, I would have preferred ‘roq/gargonz’ or even 1K Island to ‘stand up’ to it!! All in all, good value meal and The Nicky continues to maintain a high level of customer service ala wait staff!

    (As a side note as some of us wrestle with English as a language: the pronouncing of the ending of Gnocchi is “key” in contrast to the likes of a local talk show celeb, Jim Villanucci….Villanuchee as in Cheetos! Eh! even more so, given there is even an ‘h’ in gnocchi, should it definitely be like Chi Chis??? ….Eh! t’was a former lounge on San Mateo!!! i.e. Ch(ip)eee Ch(ip)eeeez! and Ch as in Cha, as in the dance Cha Cha Cha!!!???)
    PS: with all due respect to El Sr. Plata, I’d think The Correleoneee would be better epitomized (while not suggesting any kind of turf thingy) by The Pepperoni instead of the ‘ground beef’, and accompanied by strong undertones of green chile/garlic, to be offset by the discrete (if there is such a thing in this case!) of the presence of The Anchovies. Eh!? no swimmin with the fishes implied!!!

  22. Senorena Plata and I shared a delicious pizza called the ‘Correleno’ at Nicky V’s tonight and I am so glad thy are taking suggestions for Pizza’s of the month. Well, it contained ground beef, green chile, red onions, potatoes in a garlic sauce that was delicious. I had the awesome opportunity to meet Nicole and her husband and thank them for implementing a great idea. We each had The Wedge which was salad with Gorgonzola, tomatoes and cucumbers. Senorena had some excellent Red Wine and I had the usual diet soda with Lime. Thanks All for an excellent supper with my Bride…

    1. Sr. Plata is much too modest. He’s actually the genius who submitted the winning recipe, entitling him to one free Correleno per week through the month of February. Nicky V’s invites diners to get their recipe suggestions in by the end of February to become the March winner!

      Now if Sr. Plata doesn’t share at least one of those free Correlenos with me, I may cancel his lifetime free subscription to Gil’s Thrilling and Filling Blog.

  23. I finally made it back when I heard the Shepherds Pie pizza returned for a limited time. I brought Senorena, her sister and her husband to try it and they loved it! We tried the Umbria with chicken (for me)but they thought adding ham would have been a better choice. We started out with 2 wedges and the blue cheese was real blue cheesey, very awesome. I want to thank Nicky and her staff, they were very attentive to us and made us feel at home. One suggestion is to offer a light fare of pasta with all the flavor but keeping some semblance of feeling fit.

  24. Dropped into this ‘moderne‘, but nevertheless, warmly toned and tastefully accessorized setting the other evening. My waitress was graciously hospitable and attentive and so appeared the other ‘wait’-gals.

    Disclaimer re Chi references: I’ve only been in Chicago a couple of memorable times: once to change trains; another to watch a “vinyl garment bag” literally “explode” in the freezing temp as it was offloaded to transfer to an ABQ connection, so scattering a dress, sport coat and a few ‘stored’ dirty shortez and panties across the O’hare tarmack; and the other while having to drive through quickly as there was some rioting going on in the mid ‘60s. Thus, I missed munching on an authentic Chicago thin-crust pizza, “in vivo” sorta speak, in order to expound comparatively.

    I opted for the “make” a pepperoni con green chili(sic) for this visit. The ‘thin-crust’ is a nice change of pace; the chili(sic) had a nice kick; the sauce and pepperoni were ‘fine’ albeit the cheese began to get a bit too chewy about the fourth slice. All in all…and call me whatever, but my array of taste buds lets, for the price and of all places being Una Catena, Pizza Hut’s be fine along with the nouveau styles of…OMG…Boston Pizza as well. Nevertheless, I will try to check out the delightful sounding pasta offerings on a later return to enjoy the incomparable view of the twinkling lights of the valley come on as Y’all dine. (PS: the ‘apres pizza’ today was thumbs up!)

  25. Had you, as do I, followed Nicky V’s facebook page (and you, too, should), you would have noticed last May that her special one weekend was Maryland Crabcake atop Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo. No other restaurant in Albuquerque serves Maryland Crabcakes. Nobody even comes close.

    Such crabcakes are simplicity itself. You can get the recipe from Albuquerque The Magazine’s May 2011 Food & Wine issue, or here on this blog. They are fashioned from backfin lump crabmeat from blue crabs (nothing else will do) and seasoned lightly with Old Bay Seasoning. No green stuff (parsley or other herbs) is allowed, and green chile is strictly forbidden, just as Old Bay would ruin a Green Chile Cheeseburger. The resulting piece of heaven has that indescribable sweetness of blue crabs.

    The fettuccine was perfectly done, as are all of Nicky V’s pastas. The Alfredo was properly thick and quite delicious. The crabcake was perfectly formed, delicately sweet, and had that unmistakable Old Bay flavor. Crazy good.

    You need to let Nicole know that this dish needs to be served often. I have already asked her, and we also discussed what other variations on these crabcakes could be served. Simple crabcake sandwiches (on the traditional Saltines) with a squirt of Worcestershire (this is the usual bar food version in Bawmer) would save me the air fare to BWI when I get the hankering for these beauties.

    Let’s get a campaign going.

  26. Finally brought Senorena Plata for lunch and was all excited! They had a special special pizza from St Patricks Day called the Shepards Pie which was one of the best pizzas I ever had. It starts out with gravy on the bottom with ground beef. Then came the peas and mashed potatoes and then topped with cheddar cheese. This was amazing! Its funny that they tell people of this hidden gem but they don’t order it. We started out and shared a wedge with gorgonzola cheese bits. It would. e nice if they served bread with the salad and I think if they additional types of pasta such as whole wheat would be a treat. We must try it for dinner. Excellent food…

  27. The food here is consistently great, I think the Orvietto is my favorite pasta dish in the city…but the service has been inconsistent. It seems it’s a struggle to get great waitstaff and for the kitchen to keep up when the restaurant is busier than anticipated. We’ve had menu adjustments twice for slow service, giving 20% discounts is a nice gesture, but we’d rather just get our meals in a timely manner.

  28. This is the BEST pizza that $$ can buy. We love eating here for the ambiance, the food and the service-all equally superb.

    The posting by Andrea above is by one of the competitors employees. But if they are worried enough to leave such postings, that is a good sign of just how really wonderful this is.

    We can’t wait to go back!

    Happy New Year!


  29. This has quickly become one of our favorite west-side choices – the sauces are fantastic, the salads creative and delicious and the pizza – is among the best in town!

    We’ve been there at least a half-dozen times since they opened and the quality and service are very consistent.

    We drive from Corrales and gladly zoom by Il Vicino, and the rest of the mediocre bunch on restaurant row to get to this establishment.

    We look forward to every vist and never hesitate to bring guests.

    They are so, so much better than their predecessors in that location.

    We noticed on the way in that their new neighbors which opened in the Blue Cactus location at the other end of the building closed after only a few weeks. Anyone know the story? – We did not get a chance to even try them out.

  30. Took my mother to Nicky V’s where she ordered Chicken Veloute. It should have been called “Pasta Veloute.” I expected at least a thigh or leg or some large chicken pieces, but the amount was minimal. I should have brought a magnifying glass for all the work I had to go through to find the chicken pieces. I felt ripped off! The meal tasted bland with no real character. I ordered the Lucca and had one heck of a time cutting it. It was also too salty. I will never eat there again.

  31. Tried Nicky V’s on Thursday night – not very impressed. Place is well decorated. Staff is young and not well trained. I ordered a glass of Merlot – it was served cold?? House salad was delicious. Lazagna was my main course – very good – very big portion! Hubby ordered the Lucca – came to the table burnt on top and very hard to cut the slices – he asked if there was cardboard underneath!. No offers for refills on soda or water. Dessert was the Tiramisu – shared. Took doggie bags home for next day. Pizza was even harder to eat. Since we went there to try out the pizza it was a big disappointment. Parking is pretty hard to find too! Guess we were there on a night when the friendly Nicky V was not were to be seen. Don’t think we’ll give them another try.

  32. Sr. Plata joined his Mentor for some nice Italian Food very close to his work. We had the opportunity to talk to the owner who was very friendly, answered a lot of questions and made us feel at home. I was very surprised by the food because I thought it was another Pizza place like the NY Pizza name it was before or a Dion’s but it was far from it, it was an Italian Restaurant! My suggestion is to remove pizza from the title, start fresh and bring the crowds in. I started out with the wedge which was very large (even for me), very thick Blue Cheese dressing and Blue Cheese crumbles; actually it may be Gorgonzola dressing with the blue cheese crumbles, either way very good to the gorgonzola/blue cheese content expert. My main meal was Chicken Veloute. It was highly complex in its flavors according to the owner. It seemed to be a slightly different taste with each bite of a different component. I was told it was due to the Onion Confit which was very interesting. I liked getting a taste of pepper but not in a hot way but in a pleasantly noticeable mannger. I liked the spinach pasta, onion, chicken, mushroom, etc. they all came together very well. It felt like I was eating a formal, fancy and highly expensive meal but it was quite affordable and delicious. I would suggest to the owner to add bread or garlic toast to the pasta dishes and a small side salad at a small cost to add the feeling of a meal with variety. I finished it off with the sea salt caramel gelato which was also excellent. I feared the sea salt but it was not real noticiable and it completed the meal. I overheard a discussion on the poential for vegetarian lasagna, that would be a good alternative as well as being able to choose the sauce. Next time, I will add a glass a wine and consider eating on the veranda at dusk to enjoy the Sandia to make for a very relaxful and sumptious evening. Oh, nice pictures. One reminded me of an updated M.C. Escher that was full of color and content which was pretty impressive…looking forward to returning.

  33. Sea salt and caramel gelato is one of the specialties of the Van Rixel Bros – sure Nicky isn’t getting it from them?

    Not that I would fault her one iota for that – in fact I applaud it for Van Rixel’s gelato is very tasty and of course, local.

    I’m interested to see how their strange pizzas stack up to Farina. 🙂

    1. I stand corrected, Andrea. Nicky’ V’s does acquire their gelatos from the amazing Van Rixel Brothers. They’ll be rotating flavors on a weekly basis which means more frequent visits are warranted. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  34. You can order a “custom” pizza here, contrary to the suggestions of the menu, which touts a number of “specialty” pizzas, none of which may exactly suit your taste. Although this pizza place smacks of New York origins, the sweet sauce and thin crust make it cousin to Chicago style thin-crust pizza, and we’ve found that ordering a cheese pizza with sausage (or double sausage) and mushrooms is a pretty good fix for when you’re jonesing for Chicago thin crust. The dough is hand-tossed and thin and crisp, with parts of the edge being charred (not unpleasantly) from the high heat of the oven. About the best that we have had around here, in terms of attempting to recreate Chicago style thin crust. All others are mere pretenders, as have been the Chicago style hot dog joints which have come and gone in recent years.

  35. About 10 of us decided to enjoy Happy Hour over at the newly opened Nicky V’s. They had an awesome table for 10 sitting right as you entered the door and we took up shop there. The pizzas were awesome (we had the New Mexican and the Novara), and the appetizers where magnificent (we had the Frito Misto and the Ravaiolo Fritti). We were worried the Novara would be pretty powerful, but it was truly delicious and very subtle. The beers on tap are a little eclectic, but all good in their own right and perfect for 100 degree day we were having. Nicky came over to the table multiple times to make sure we were all enjoying ourselves and really made us feel welcome. It really was a great place to enjoy happy hour and we are glad something great took over the old NY Pizza. My wife and I will surely be back, and the next visit we will have to try the Umbria! Thanks, Nicky V’s!

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