Steps from the endpoint of the New Mexico Rail Runner lies an unlikely nexus: that of Old-World Italy and modern New York City. Here, chef Antonio Mendoza builds traditional pastas dishes such as spaghetti bolognese and house specialties such as gnocchi astice, a savory medley of lobster, bacon, saffron cream, and spicy chile flakes. Made from imported butter cream, ice cream from the FX O’Reilly microcreamery showcases exotic flavors such as vietnamese cinnamon, tahitian vanilla bean, and belgian bittersweet chocolate. Teeming with Tuscan, Piedmont, and Veneto reds, the wine list has garnered numerous awards from Wine Spectator. Pranzo's new upstairs bistro, Alto, boasts small plates of eclectic, international cuisine for $4 to $15, and a wine list that spans South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Australia, and Argentina. The kitchen prepares an abridged menu from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., before cabaret concerts from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. by pianist David Geist, a Broadway veteran who has played in more than 600 performances of Cats. Shows take place on the terrace level, where guests can admire the city’s romantic lights and the occasional Bat-Signal.
Pizzeria Espiritu's founding chef Tom Berkes formulated his pizza dough recipe around Santa Fe's unique altitude, tweaking each thin crust and thick crust pie to cook just right. In addition to specialty pies and calzones brimming with fresh toppings, Pizzeria Espiritu plates old world favorites including pastas drenched in cream sauce and oven-baked salmon. At lunchtime, sandwiches and individually sized pies make for more satisfying midday meals than anything you could find under your car seat.
Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Back Road Pizza bakes and slices a menu of cheesy pizzas prepared with homemade dough and locally sourced ingredients. While each pie starts in the New-York tradition, Back Road adds a special cornmeal-coated crust filled with more flavor than plain pizza bases and a crunchy end to every slice. Savor mouthfuls of a specialty creation ($13–$25) such as the New Mexican, a fiery blend of green chile, red onion, and pepperoni, or the meaty Texan, conveniently hewn into handy wedge shapes or outlines of the Batmobile. Crafty consumers can assemble their own pizzas ($8.50+) using a list of more than 20 toppings and a highly focused imagination. Limited appetites can swap in a gluten-free crust ($10.50) for any pizza. Satisfy three-dimensional cravings with a folded calzone packed with up to three toppings ($8) or an oven-roasted chicken sandwich covered in green-chile aioli and baked open-face so chefs can see its smile and tell when it’s ready to serve ($9.50).
Pizza 9 is the brainchild of Hasan A. Aslami and Behrad Etemadi—aka Hass and Rod. The pair opened the first Pizza 9 in 2008, and then the combination of Rod's business know-how and Hass's more than 20 years of experience with Chicago--style pizzas helped to scatter franchise locations like pepperonis throughout New Mexico.
Chicago--style deep-dish and thin-crust pizzas emerge from each Pizza 9’s ovens with traditional and gluten-free bases, as well as with the aromas of ingredients such as pepperoni, artichokes, and green chilies. Signature calzones disguise warm centers of bacon, eggplant, and spicy giardiniera, and hearty nests of pasta hide beneath plump meatballs and ladles of shiny marinara.
Maria Venturino moved from Italy to the United States in 1964, and her love of the old country shows in every dish she creates. She still makes her own marinara sauce the old-fashioned way?from scratch?in addition to whipping up homemade Italian staples such as lasagna, baked ziti, and meatballs that crown plates of spaghetti. Aldo's main dish, however, is pizza. Maria, along with her two sons and a bunch of elves in chef's hats, bake classic cheese and pepperoni pies, as well as specialty pizzas including artichoke hearts and minced garlic.
Helmed by the former general manager of Gruet Steakhouse, The Black Olive Wine Bar & Grill offers a menu full of elegant, Italian-inspired fare for lunch and dinner daily. Start with an order of house-marinated olives ($5), savoring the succulent lemon- and herb-soaked spheres before plunging into the New Mexico green-chile stew ($8), loaded with spuds and ground sirloin. Entree selections feature hearty, hand-held sandwiches and burgers (starting at $7) and authentic Italian pastas (starting at $12) alongside a mouthwatering collection of meats and succulent seafare. When a vitamin-D deficiency gets you down, opt for a 10-ounce filet mignon ($24) topped with bleu-cheese butter or green-peppercorn sauce (each $1 extra), or indulge an aquatic craving with an order of the Australian lobster tail (market price). The Black Olive's savory sides, such as mascarpone polenta ($7) or creamed spinach ($7), offer accompaniments for any stomach-bound supper, while ricotta and chocolate-chip-filled cannoli ($7) promise enough meal-concluding sweetness to soften even the most sour-faced.