Category Archives: Albuquerque NM

Big Cheese Pizza Gallup NM

While I love the old motels on Route 66, I picked a crappy one in Gallup. I love the old architecture and neons, especially the ones that say something like “It’s Cooooooooool Inside,” with graphic of a penguin or polar bear, saying they have AC. Or the ones that have a multicolored sign resembling the old NBC peacock bragging about “COLOR TV.”

Long before the days of “Yes, we have HBO”, or “Free continental breakfast and wi-fi in the rooms”. Spoiler alert. Ask very specific questions when checking in at the front desk, especially in the value chains and independents. Overall, though, I find the independents to have better wifi than the value chains (Super 8, Motel 6, Days Inn, etc). Wouldn’t appear to me that the franchisors have standards in this category yet. In any case.

So I am in this crappy motel, in which the neon said “kitchenettes”, but neglected to say that the actual appliances had been removed some time ago, and were for sale in the parking lot. (Hey, it was dark!). So I had a kitchenette sans kitchen. A big empty room. Any further description of the motel would take us far afield from what I started to write about.


Brickyard Pizza in Albuquerque NM

A friend and I, wanting to try some pizza we hadn’t had before, decided to go to Brickyard Pizza, a small pizza place across from the University of New Mexico, 2216 Central Ave SE ,(505)262-2216.  We arrived around 7 on Thursday.  There weren’t many people there, but the room was abuzz with the chatter of 5 different TVs, all broadcasting sports.

Right away I was afraid the pizza would be relegated to an afterthought of watching games.  There is a small bar, a few beers on tap and a hand full of different menu items, like bread sticks and other appetizers, but it seems they mostly serve pizza.  They serve slices, but my friend and I decided to get a 12″ pie in the ‘hand tossed’ style (they offer a deep dish), half cheese, half mushroom, onion, and green chile (around $12).

For those not from or familiar with the southwest, you may need to reference ‘green chile’.   I always like to have a side of half cheese when eating pizza at an unfamiliar restaurant.  Pizza, in its essentials, is the bread (or crust), sauce and cheese.  If those three elements aren’t good then toppings are usually hiding faults instead of enhancing merits.

The service, which was excellent, and the beer, were the only enjoyable aspects.  The pizza arrived looking and smelling good, but the flavor leaved much to be desired.  The crust was dense, chewy and almost rubbery.  The sauce was a thick and dark red paste that must have been, along with the cheese, of the cheapest available ingredients from Sysco, the Wal-Mart of restaurant distributors.   The thick layer of cheese was sliding off the pizza and when cooled became strange and stretchy.  The toppings on the other side didn’t help, as the onions were sliced much bigger than my taste prefers and were more crunchy than soft. The mushrooms were fine and thickly sliced, and the green chile was fresh and mildly spicy, but they could not help redeem the unpleasant aspects of the pie.  I will usually finish a pizza even if it isn’t great, but neither my friend nor I could eat the last slice.

I do have my own personal preferences that may make the experience different for some, but the yelling at TVs by other patrons and the dried oregano that topped the entire pizza were more reasons for me to not want to come back unless I hear the recipes have drastically changed.  Brickyard Pizza in Albuquerque gets 2 our of 8 slices.

Mario’s Pizzeria and Ristorante Albuquerque New Mexico

My daughter and I arrived at Mario’s around 7:30, late enough to avoid what is usually a busy dinner time there, even on weekdays.  Mario’s is more than a pizza place.  They have an extensive selection of pastas, sandwiches, beers and wines and desserts as well as the pizza I came to sample.

We ordered, after a bit of a wait, a 15″ pizza, supposedly in the NY style, half cheese, half pepperoni and mushrooms.  The atmosphere of the room was casual, as was the service.  The pizza arrived and it’s appearance had me anticipating it to be a quality pie.  The sauce and cheese were pushed close to the edge, leaving most of the crust at about an inch or so, to my satisfaction.  I prefer much of  the crust be accompanied with cheese and sauce.  The toppings on the pepperoni/mushroom side were generous and thinly sliced, also to my taste for those particular ingredients.  My daughter started right away on the cheese side, and I grabbed a slice of each.  The crust was not at all thick, but I could not say it was thin.  There was a lighter shade of gold to the bottom, and the crust above just a thin layer was softer and chewier.  It was firm, but too soft and doughy for this style.  Maybe if it had been cooked a little bit longer the crust could have been much better.

The first bite was a mild disappointment, as there was a sprinkle of oregano in the middle of the pie.  Had oregano topped the entire pizza it would have ruined it for me, but the first bite of each slice wasn’t too much.  The cheese was obviously of a higher quality, and was not thick but still generous.  The sauce was subtle and lighter and did not suffer from the unfortunate spicy quality many pizzas in Albuquerque posses.  It was on the order of a light red and more like a traditional marinara.  After a few slices, it was the sauce I was enjoying the most.  It didn’t taste like they put in dry herbs into the sauce at some later stage as most places do.  Whatever spices inside were cooked, excepting said oregano sprinkle.  My daughter is not picky, but tends to eat less when the quality is less, and her eating as much as she did was another good measure of the taste.  Overall, the pizza was not in any substantial way deficient, and was above average, but not by much.  Mario’s Pizza in Albuquerque gets 5 out of 8 slices.  This experience will have me coming back, but perhaps not for a while.