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OK, here goes nothing...best pizza in NM?

OK New Mexico hounds, as much as I used to hate "Best XYZ" threads on the Boston board when I lived there, I think the time has come. Curiosity has gotten the better of me, and I'm really interested in hearing everyone's thoughts.

So...what's your favorite pizza in New Mexico? High-end or low-end, NY-style or CA-style or Neapolitan, from Las Cruces to Farmington, I'd love to hear your go-tos for this de facto food group.

In my limited time as a Santa Fe resident, it's been Dion's all the way for me. The crust has its good nights and not-so-good nights, but when it's on, a Dion's green chile, pepperoni, and red onion pizza is as close to pizza perfection as I've found in the state.

How about YOU? (and thanks in advance!)

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  1. "as I used to hate "Best XYZ" threads on the Boston board ..."

    I hate those "best" threads, too. At least in the body of your post you called it "favorite." That's the only reason that I'm going to answer (snit, snit) because you should have just titled the thread "Favorite Pizza."

    My favorite is Taos Pizza Outback. I espeically like how they use sesame seeds on the perimeter of the crust. I've plagiarized that little touch and use it when I make my own pizza which actually is the BEST in New Mexico.

    1. My favorite is Giovanni's in ABQ, on San Pedro between Gibson and Zuni. Just a slice of pie with a coke takes me back to being a kid again. I also like Dion's and Saggio's.

      1. In Las Cruces we ( specifically my husband and I) have 2 favorite spots for pizza. Number 1 is SI Italian Bistro, its located on Idaho behind Albertsons, they have a traditional wood fired oven that was shipped over from Italy and rebuilt here. The crust is thin and crisp, the toppings are fresh and of good quality, and I love that they have more then just your basic pepperoni and limited veggies to choose from. Also, they make their dough, sauce, and sausage in house, which is always a plus.

        Our second choice is Zeffiro's. Its new to LC, I'd say its been open about 6 months or so, located in the downtown on Water st. The city is really trying to revitalize our downtown area and I love the fact that Zeffiro went in there. The ambiance is great, and the pizza's are awesome. Again, the crust is thin, with just enough balance of chewy/crispy. They have a few sauce options, which is very nice, their pesto is some of the best I've ever had. They have probably the largest selection of toppings as well. They really make a stellar pie and they are in the process of opening a NYC style eatery near the university, which I cant wait to try out. Also, they make homemade baguettes and ciabatta that are to die for. mmmmm. Now I want something ooey, gooey and cheesy!

        1. Giovanni has really excellent pizza, NY style. My favorite in Venezia's. There are a couple of locations and it is really the closest to NY pizza in the area -- we know, we tried them ALL when we moved to ABQ from NY.

          California Pizza Kitchen at Uptown has good pizza for a chain.

          NYPD has good pizza too; Dion's works but not NY style.

          Venezia's is the all around best NY pizza.

          FWIW - Venezia also has EXCELLENT Chick parm heroes. Almost as good as mine!

          2 Replies
          1. re: DebitNM

            Venezia's used to be my favorite but regarding the one in Rio Rancho, the toppings started creeping to far to the center, the pizza might be 16" but theres only toppings on 10" Ive converted to Frattelli's, it's on Southern in the Albertsons strip mall. The "New York" is awesome and overflowing with toppings..

            1. re: DebitNM

              I agree that my Venezia's experience has been very good. Really chewy crust - which makes a NY style slice sooooo good.

              For Neopolitan ultra-thin crust, its Farina, hands down. Nearly (maybe) as good as Pizzeria Bianco in PHX.

            2. Rooftop in Santa Fe makes really high quality "Yuppy" style pizza. They do toppings like smoked duck, salmon, and use good quality cheese. The crust which comes in both regular and blue corn is thin and very tasty.I'm from NYC and I like my crust thin with a bit of crispness to it. I think Dion's is lousy.Cheap ingredients doughy and heavy. There is also a place in the new mall near Lowes on Zarrarano which used to be called Patsy's and is now called Lucchi's which serves a simple well made classic pizza. In terms of chains, Upper crust sometimes shows up with a decent pizza, sometimes its garbage.The greek pizza is a good choice.

              1. We like Il Viccino pretty well. BTW, finlero, I lived in Boston too and never had a decent pizza. Granted, we always had something else when we went to the North End but in the Back Bay were we lived--nothing decent.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sandiasingh

                  Just made it to the Santa Fe branch of Il Vicino. Probably the best wood oven pizza I've had in New Mexico, but as Dennis Miller might say, that's a little like being the valedictorian at summer school.

                  Nice texture and flavor to the slightly sweet crust, reminding me a bit of CPK (in a good way). The other ingredients were adequate, but not great, the shredded mozzarella and slightly heavy sauce being the most conspicuous drawbacks in an idiom where freshness is critical. I was impressed, however, that both red and green chile were genuinely spicy, a full-on medium by NM standards.

                  Il Vicino's own microbrews were tasty. I particularly enjoyed my strong and hoppy dark brown ale.

                  The dining room was fine, if a little small and cramped. Their order-at-the-counter system seemed a tad chaotic, but seemed to get the job done. Counter service was frazzled (it was Friday night), table servers were friendly and competent.

                  I will say value is pretty good, especially for downtown Santa Fe. Two pizzas, two small beers, and a salad ran just north of $30 after tax and tip. That said, I'd have gladly paid an extra ten bucks for dinner to get pizzas with fresh mozzarella and a zippier sauce. All in all a fine, if not exactly spectacular pizza place.

                  Il Vicino
                  321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                2. I'd plump--so to speak--for Cafe Rio in Ruidoso. Everything about their pie is good: thin, crispy crust, nice sauce, and the correct proportion of toppings and cheese. I'd be surprised if there's a better pizza in New Mexico. The only downside is the atmosphere of the place. Too self-consciously hip, anti-establishment (or so they think) and grungy. Best to get your pie to go and eat it in your cabin.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Oh my god I looooove the Rio! Their pizza is awesome, and I have never had any problems with their atmosphere. I would say its worth a trip to Ruidoso just for their pizza if nothing else.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        Actually the atmosphere at Cafe Rio is wonderful just like the pizza.

                        Cafe Rio
                        2547 Sudderth Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          Photos of Cafe Rio, summer 2010. The pizza was pretty good!

                          Cafe Rio
                          2547 Sudderth Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345

                        2. Thanks all for your responses so far! Finally had a chance to try two spots in ABQ:

                          Venezia's - quite respectable. Crust was thin, almost crackery, but very light. Nice, if simple taste to the cheese. Tomato sauce seemed just a little heavy (almost more like a pasta sauce), and there was a bit more of it than I'd ideally have liked, but the flavors were good. And unlike Dion's, it reheated well, which is a big plus. (Dion's reheated cheese is a gloppy disaster whether microwaved, toasted, or oven-baked.)

                          Giovanni's - ding ding ding! I think I've found my ABQ go-to. Super-thin crust that managed a near-perfect balance of crunchy and chewy. A very thin layer of well-spiced sauce. Good flavor to the cheese, but again not too much of it. For better or worse, this pizza was really greasy (I blot, sacrilege I know, but if you don't, this may be a little much for you), but the elements in play here were exceptionally well-balanced. Once again, excellent reheated, perhaps even better than fresh.

                          Giovanni's Pizzaria
                          921 San Pedro Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108

                          Venezia's Pizzeria
                          3908 San Mateo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: finlero

                            Thanks for the reports. Next time I'm in ABQ I'll definitely give Giovanni's a shot.

                          2. Besides the Rio in Ruidoso -- Farina in ABQ- hands down.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: abqdeb

                              I haven't heard of Farina - where is it; is it new?

                              from the other Albuquerque Deb

                              1. re: DebitNM

                                S side of Central in EDo, just E of Artichoke (same owners). It's perfectly fine Yuppie back-to-peasant-basics pizza just like you can get at a thousand other similar places in a hundred cities like ABQ across the country. Certainly nice to have around but not really worth seeking out if you're a tourist (because you'll have been in an identical place in your own city).


                            2. Discovered Pizzeria Centro in Santa Fe over the weekend.

                              Real NY-style pizza, with very thin crust, easy on the sauce and cheese. Although it's nothing extra-special (all core elements are good, not over-the-top great), it's easily the best pizza I've found in Santa Fe. Reheats as well or better than fresh, although grease foes like me will want to blot.

                              There are a variety of specialty pizzas available that are loaded up with an array of semi-fancy toppings (fresh spinach, fried eggplant, feta, sundried tomato, of course green chile...), but IMO it's kind of dumb to put more than maybe two or three basic toppings on a real NY-style pie, as it just turns into a soggy mess.

                              A large cheese pizza clocks in at an absurd $18, and toppings jack up the price even higher, but it's still cheaper and way faster than driving to ABQ to pick up Giovanni's.

                              Two locations, one near downtown in the Santa Fe Design Center, and a second much-needed location out in Eldorado. They close early (8 or 8:30), so plan ahead.

                              Pizzeria Centro
                              814 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: finlero

                                Eighteen samolians for a cheese pie?! LOL. And there are doubtless some pinheads out there who will plunk down that kind of dough for something that costs a buck fifty to make.

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Well, I'm not exactly thrilled about the price tag either, but I'm still planning to be one of those pinheads fairly regularly. Look at it this way:

                                  A large cheese from Upper Crust costs $15.25, a large from Backroad is $15, but both are pretty mediocre unless you load them up with toppings. Dion's costs slightly less, but it's kind of nasty when you reheat it, so you don't get good additional meals out of it. I don't love the idea of spending over 20 bucks on a pizza with two toppings, but honestly, Pizzeria Centro seems to be the only game in town when it comes to real NY-style pizza; in my book, that's easily worth a $3 "pinhead tax" any day.

                                  Also, as a FWIW aside, costs for good-quality ingredients have gone way up in the past 3 years, especially for flour. I don't think you can make a pizza for $1.50 anymore. Even Giovanni's in ABQ, still far and away the best I've tried in NM, charges $15 for a large cheese. Of course Venezia's is still $12, so make of this what you will...

                                  1. re: finlero

                                    It seems the cost of pizza in the Albu-Santa Fe corridor has vaulted straight over preposterous to utterly outrageous. I've eaten some fantastic pizza in places as varied as New Jersey, Missouri, Texas and Ruidoso, New Mexico and never seen a large cheese pie net anything close to 18 bucks. I guess if I was living in your neck o' the woods I'd just learn how to make my own pie.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      18" 8-slice cheese pie (Lombardi's) was just shy of $20 last time I checked. And that's the Planet Manhattan - SF does have its "living wage" to pass on to consumers, but I don't get how Ruidoso justifies it.

                                      I'm grateful to be able to buy Giovanni's pizza - $15/large or not. Rosario knows what he's doing, and $15 is cheaper than a plane to NYC!

                                2. re: finlero

                                  Correction! Went back to Centro, and it would seem I misremembered the prices.

                                  Turns out an extra large (18") cheese pizza is $16. Not exactly a bargain, but far less ridiculous, especially considering that an 18" cheese at Cafe Rio in Ruidoso (I haven't been yet, but seems to be a board fave) is over $14.

                                  Cafe Rio
                                  2547 Sudderth Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345

                                3. Anybody tried Sal-E-Boys in Rio Rancho? It's a tiny take-out joint on Southern, but if you like NY-style pizza, it's right on. Make their own crust, sauce, etc., and it's reasonable--$8 for a 12" cheese.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: salmoore

                                    I've had Sal E 's pizza, good but I still prefer Venezia's. My 2 cents worth...

                                  2. Stumbled across a startlingly good pizza find over the weekend at the Lavender Festival, Pizza Van Go:


                                    OK, so to get it out of the way, yes, the name is dumb. That said, this is without a doubt the best Neapolitan-style pizza I've found in the state.

                                    Properly basic dough made with imported "00" flour, San Marzano tomatoes, and homemade mozzarella, fired in their mobile 900+ degree wood-burning oven. My only gripe with the pizza margherita was the basil: not enough of it, and they cooked it instead of adding it after the bake. But very impressed all the same. At $11 for a personal-sized pizza, not cheap, but top-quality imported and house-made ingredients cost money, so the price struck me as pretty fair. They were set up at the Casa Rodena winery, so the pizza and a glass of wine made for a pretty spectacular lunch on a warm summer day.

                                    They appear to do only catering and events, so not exactly ubiquitous and easy to come by. But if you see them, definitely worth a try.

                                      1. Giovanni's is my favorite - not as pricey if you go to their website and print out a coupon.

                                        1. In Las Cruces, Zeffiro's rules, without a doubt. Try the one with thinly sliced lemons, asparagus and prosciutto.

                                          1. Finally got to Farina yesterday. We were very pleased with the margherita which was nicely done and we thought better than Pizzeria Bianco. Nice crust, not too many black spots and not scorched on the bottom. Nice flavors, could have had a bit more cheese and as always, more fresh basil.

                                            We tend to always order a margherita the first time we go to a new pizza place - use it as a benchmark. It is easy to get swayed by fancy toppings. We were not disappointed.

                                            Hubby had Baltika, a Porter, from Russia which he enjoyed. I had my standard Diet Coke. They serve cans, which means no refills, I didn't like that part.

                                            All in all, a great experience and we will return.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: DebitNM

                                              And for the sake of counterpoint [from a persnickety pizza snob, no less], I think Farina's pizza is about as middle-of-the-pack as you can get. I too almost always start with a margherita, and found Farina's dough, sauce, and cheese all to have conspicuous deficiencies.

                                              I'm truly impressed by their beer list, as well as the fun, convivial atmosphere. And I'd gladly go back, especially on a Sunday or Monday when a margherita and a pint runs 10 bucks even. But nothing about their pizza wowed me except the fact that people are regularly waiting 2+ hours for it.

                                              Guess that's what makes horse racing, eh?

                                              1. re: finlero

                                                2+ hours?? We went for lunch yesterday and had a table right away and pizza in no time at all.
                                                I wouldn't wait that long at PB nor would I wait that long here.

                                                This is not Pizzeria Delfina but then this isn't San Francisco. We liked it. This coming from some serious former NYer's This is not NY pizza but it beats almost everything else around town.

                                                1. re: DebitNM

                                                  I agree with your assessment Deb--I'm surprised to hear the 2+ hour thing. I have been to Farina several times, in the evening, and have never waited more than 30 minutes for a table. The time I had to wait 30 minutes it was a Friday and someone (owner? manager?) was walking around giving out free pizza slices to folks who were waiting.

                                                  1. re: DebitNM

                                                    We went early on a Saturday evening in March and had over an hour wait, and were told by the host that waits routinely eclipsed two hours, including on weekdays. May have changed, may be seasonal, may have been a lie.

                                                    As to the pizza itself, again I certainly don't hate it, it's perfectly fine. And hey, if it's your new favorite in NM, then to quote the Big Lebowski, "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."