From Back Road and Pizza Centro to Dion’s, Upper Crust and beyond, Santa Fe has no shortage of pizza options. And perfect-pie preferences are just as varied — my own tastes were shaped by more than a decade of living in upstate New York, where great pizza is par for the course.
When you’re looking to elevate a classic, though, wood-fired pizzas and gourmet toppings are virtually guaranteed to please a crowd of pizza perfectionists.
Locally, Il Vicino (321 W. San Francisco St., ilvicino.com) is known for turning out upscale pizza. Violet Crown is in the process of reopening its restaurant and will now feature pizza offerings inspired by Tender Fire owner Ben Crosky, who has been making sourdough pies locally to much acclaim (tenderfirekitchen.com).
And now even the venerable El Farol has expanded into the wood-fired pizza realm, with 12-inch thin-crust pies of dough that’s been “made in Neapolitan tradition then fermented and proofed for 72 hours,” according to the website. Offerings range from the simple Marinara, with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, oregano, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil for $11, to the Rucola, with San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, balsamic, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil for $20. (Visit elfarolsantafe.com/wood-fired-pizza.)
To check out the trend myself, I headed to Bruno’s “The Biz” Authentic Italian Street Food, a food truck and tent most recently parked at 1512 Paseo de Peralta. Here, Vincenzo Bruno-Marchi pays homage to his heritage with New York-style wood-fired pizzas and other offerings.
Not only do food trucks feel like smart options during the pandemic, Bruno’s offers seamless online ordering and payment in addition to making your choice in person. I went the online route on a recent weekday, ordering a 12-inch veggie pizza ($14.50) and the lunch special: an 8-inch Margherita pie, mini cannoli and granita for $10.
The pizzas came carefully boxed and piping hot. A lightly charred taste from the grill complemented the pizza’s light, yeasty crust. Both pizzas were generously topped with sun-dried tomatoes, and the Margherita added hearty chunks of roasted garlic, basil and mozzarella, while the veggie pizza was practically piled with artichoke hearts, olives, roasted red pepper, red onion, capers and perfectly cooked mushrooms.
The cannoli was a two-bite delight with sweetness largely imparted by a candied cherry and chocolate morsels, and the granita offered a refreshing balance of freshly squeezed lemon juice and cane sugar. For 10 bucks, that lunch special is a heck of a downtown deal.
Bruno’s, at 1512 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Visit facebook.com/brunosbiz1 or brunos.biz to order online, or call 505-690-0966.
Opuntia opens at the Railyard
The Opuntia aesthetic has always had a bit of a fairy-tale feel: modern design, delicate greenery and eminently Instagram-worthy drinks and dishes.
After leaving its Shoofly Street location (now home to a different, equally lovely destination, Cafecito) and holding court at El Rey with a pop-up location, Opuntia has what seems like its happily-ever-after moment: It recently opened the doors of its new Railyard location near Violet Crown and REI.
The space is as beautiful as you’d expect from owners Jeanna Gienke and Todd Spitzer, with high ceilings, wood, brick, deeply recessed nooks for booths, an array of striking and, of course, plentiful plants on offer to customers.
The menu hasn’t been posted online yet, but it does feature an elegant avocado toast on housemade bread and is sure to include some of the globally inspired dishes that starred in the cafe’s previous incarnation, as well as a thoughtful curation of teas and espresso drinks.
Opuntia is located at 1607 Alcaldesa St. in Santa Fe. Follow them at facebook.com/opuntiasf for updates, or reach them at 505-780-5796.
Chile Taste-Off winner announced
A few weeks ago, I told you about the green chile tasting kits the New Mexico Chile Association handed out for free across the state at farmers and growers markets. They tallied the votes, and the big winner of the 2020 Great New Mexico Chile Taste-Off is Rosales Farms in Lemitar (follow them at facebook.com/rosalesproducenm).
Speir Farms in Deming won second place, and third went to 5 Star Chile in Lemitar.
“I think my dad would be proud of us now,” Mario Rosales, owner of Rosales Farms, said in a news release announcing the winners. “We work pretty hard for this. … Raise it natural and it pays off.”
The lucky 1,000 or so who scored kits sampled a dozen unlabeled samples of roasted, unseasoned green chile from growers across the state and then headed online to vote for their favorites.
The tasting tour was a COVID-19 twist on last year’s in-person Taste-Off held in Socorro. But here’s hoping they bring the kits back next year — for any self-respecting New Mexico family, they’re a heck of a lot of fun.
Visit nmchiletasteoff.com for more details.