Apizza In Albuquerque

5:36 am analog

If you’re from New York or New Haven, you know there are precious few places to find real Neapolitan style pizza in the US. Before you folks from Chicago get upset, let me say that Chicago-style pizza is a great pie, but it is not traditional pizza Napoletana.

I lived in New Haven for a number of years, which allows me to debate the merits of pizza (called “apizza” in New Haven) with New Yorkers without getting my nose broken. Conversely, if you’re from New Haven, you know that New Yorkers are the only other folks who can truly claim to have traditional pizzerias.

Think I’m exaggerating? Let Wikipedia tell you about New Haven style apizza and New York style. There is a friendly rivalry between the two, only interrupted to make sure outsiders sit down and shut up about what they consider “pizza.” It’s like two siblings fighting, but making sure no one messes with the family. :)

When Kristine and I left New Haven in 2000, apizza Napoletana was something we knew we were going to miss. And for the past nine years we sure have.

Last year we considered moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and we did just that, arriving last Friday. During a scouting mission in August of 2008 we discovered Giovanni’s Pizza. I’d be lying if I said it did not factor into our decision to move here.

If you live in Albuquerque, please realize how fortunate you are to have a pizzeria of this caliber in a city this size. During our six years in Portland, OR we found nothing that comes close. Same for our three year stay in Montreal. I’m not sure what Albuquerque did to deserve this, but I’m sure as heck not complaining!

Rosario and Dana Zito are your hosts (and excellent hosts they are). Their parents, Giovanni and Joanne, bring the authentic Italian kitchen experience to bear. The family are Brooklyn transplants. Their pizza is piping hot, the crust slightly carbonized, and the toppings are fresh. Mama Joanne’s cannoli taste like an angel cried into a pastry shell. The marinara should come with an IV drip.

New Havenites and New Yorkers, if someone from Albuquerque says they “know good pizza” ask them where they eat. If they say Giovanni’s, let them keep talking. They’re part of the family.

Damn, I missed good pie.

4 Responses

  1. nixternal Says:

    You are right, our Chicago pie isn’t traditional, that’s what makes it the best :p

    I have had neapolitan style pizza from a small town in Michigan, a town you wouldn’t expect pizza like this. It is by far my family’s favorite for pizza. The bad news is they finally closed their doors a couple of years ago. Since then my mom has spent countless hours trying to reverse engineer the pizza. The sauce is damn near impossible to perfect, and the crust. Oh the crust!

    Even though I am from Chicago and enjoy Chicago pie the most, I do not hate on other types, except NY pie, as it isn’t pie, it is pizza paper :p

    /me runs and hides before someone comes at me with a funny accent from one of the burros.

  2. ao2 Says:

    Hi,

    I am from Naples (in Italy, not in Florida :)) and this post touched me so much. It is so good to see people who know differences between our tradition and their imitations :) and still appreciate the original style.

    Sure that American-style pizza (how I call it) is often more tasty, and I don’t deny it can be good sometimes, but the secret of the original recipe is that it is more _balanced_, the pie very thin, but still very soft; a first test to spot if a pizza is made following the original style: take a slice (of Margherita, of course) from the border without folding it, it has to flop down instantly.

    I have to let you know that many people in Italy from outside Naples even don’t know what you know and appreciate, you are my pizza hero today. Thanks.

    BTW, if I ever come to New Mexico I’ll surely try Giovanni’s pizza, tell him :)

    Take care,
    Antonio

  3. mneptok Says:

    Antonio,

    Grazie per le parole piacevoli!

    You are right. The crust should fold immediately!

    Also, let me add these tests:

    Are the toppings “peasant food?” Californians do unspeakable things to “pizza,” like considering artichoke hearts and other expensive ingredients pizza toppings. To eat traditional pizza Napoletana you eat a slice folded, and let the oil drip out the bottom while you eat the top. This allows you to go back to work in the fields after lunch without being tired and full of oil. Apizza is peasant food! Simple, inexpensive, and delicious.

    Are your fingers a bit black after eating? If not, your crust isn’t cooked. Traditional pizza has a slightly carbonized, beautifully thin crust.

    Cheese is a topping. Thus, it should never be a layer of goo, but used judiciously just like pepperoni or clams. Less is more. And don’t forget the peccorino Romano!

    And Antonio, I appreciate being your eroe di pizza di giorno, but I’m just an American of German and Finnish stock. I don’t deserve it. Let me suggest Neapolitans make Frank Pepe, Salvatore Consiglio, Gennaro Lombardi, and Rosario Zito their pizza heroes in America. They have kept the tradition alive on this side of the ocean!

    Buon appetito mi amico! Tell us when you are coming to New Mexico! I’ll tell the Zitos to get ready. :)

    Ciao!

  4. James Henstridge Says:

    So I suppose you wouldn’t consider an Australian coat of arms pizza to be traditional? They do taste pretty nice though.