By Jonathan Baca, Guest Writer
Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria, located in Nob Hill at 2929 Monte Vista Boulevard NE, is a temple to thin crust, savory sauces, and globs of gooey mozzarella, and as New Mexico’s only certified, sanctioned Neapolitan restaurant, they take pride in getting the little things right.
In order to be certified as an official Neapolitan pizzeria, pizza chefs must train with the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, the official governing body of thin-crust, Italian style pizza, at one of their training centers in Naples or New York City.
Owners Gabriel and Kimberly Amador trained with APN president Roberto Caporuscio at his number-one and number-two ranked pizza joints in the Big Apple, and came home to start the state’s first officially recognized parlor.
Neapolitan pizza differs from the average pie in several key ways.
First and most importantly is the wood-burning oven, which is Amore’s red-brick, fire breathing behemoth, and was imported straight from Italy.
Pizzas start off no more than three millimeters thick, and are thrown into the oven at a staggering 905 degrees for only 60-90 seconds, in an attempt to get that perfectly thin, crispy crust.
Several of Amore’s key ingredients must be sourced directly from Italy, and their mozzarella, sauces, dough and bread are all handmade in-house, something that was hard to believe, but makes a big difference once it is eaten.
All other ingredients are sourced from as close to home as possible, and Amore has partnerships with several local farms for veggies and produce.
Amore also has a very extensive wine list, along with a decent selection of local and imported beers. They also serve some unique Italian sodas and other Italian inspired drinks.
So first things first: the pizza.
All pizzas are thin crust of course, and are about nine inches. They are suggested as personal sized, but along with an appetizer, salad or dessert, are really big enough to feed two. There are three different sauces: tomato, white cream, or “rose,” which is a mixture of the two.
Prices for pizza range from $7.15 for the absolute bare-bones to $10.95 for the carnivore special.
There are several vegetarian selections, like the Vegetariano “Trophies of the Garden” pizza, which featured house-made mozzarella, basil, roasted red peppers, artichokes, roasted mushrooms, olio and a choice of sauce.
The crust was surprisingly floppy and blonde on the bottom, suggesting that it may have been slightly undercooked.
But when cooking time is 60-90 seconds, it follows that the lines between undercooked, perfectly crispy and completely burned are very thin ones.
Although it was not as crispy as one would hope, the crust had a pleasant texture and was fresh.
The house-made mozzarella was superb, with a bright, tangy flavor and perfect consistency. Instead of being shredded and evenly distributed as cheese typically is on a pizza, Amore uses one or two big globs of cheese per slice that are plopped down and allowed to melt naturally in the oven, which was a surprising and welcome twist.
The vegetables were obviously fresh and tasty.
The mushrooms were clearly roasted to perfection, with a not-too-soft texture and earthy flavor.
The peppers were bright and sweet, and the artichokes were not overcooked.
Amore also has an impressive selection of desserts, including Tiramisu and “dessert calzones,” which are actually more like dessert pizzas, as they are flat and not folded.
Along with pizzas, Amore also has a decent selection of salads and pastas, along with a dish they call Pizza Sushi, which consists of Mahi Mahi rolled up in pizza dough, and topped with fresh papaya slaw.
The ambiance at Amore is warm and hip, with modern lighting, warm colors and lots of seating for such a small space. And with warmer weather on the way, it is worth waiting to visit on a warm evening to take advantage of their rooftop patio, which offers absolutely beautiful views of Albuquerque.
Best of all, students get 10 percent off any purchase with their IDs so do not forget to bring those along.
All in all, Amore is a fun, affordable and delicious taste of authentic Italy, great for a date night or just a fun time out with friends.