Venezia's puts Mama to work doubletime. Venezia's, the Rio Rancho pizzeria, now has an Albuquerque location at 3908 San Mateo NE (you know the place, it's been a Dairy Queen, a doughnut shop and a hot "dawg" joint.) The business is a family enterprise that was run by Frank Venezia from the late '70s until 1995 when the founder closed his restaurant in order to focus on concession sales at Tingley Coliseum and the flea market. In 2000, the second generation, brothers Aldo and Renato, decided to get back into the family business (they put in hours working at the Rio Rancho restaurant as kids) and reopened a Venezia's at 1690 Rio Rancho Drive SE.
The brothers drafted their mother, Maria, to do the cooking and they say she still makes all of dough, sauces and lasagnas by hand. Now that they've got two locations, I asked Aldo how they expect Mama to be in two places at once. She shuffles back and forth between the two restaurants, he replied. I chastised him for making his poor mother work like a slave, but he insisted that his mother lived to cook and loved working in the restaurant.
"She used to get mad when we'd try to make her go home," he insisted. I told him that I'd already seen this show on TV—it was called "The Restaurant" and a nice young Italian boy had his mama working her fingers to the bone rolling millions of meatballs. (Oh yeah, Maria rolls all the meatballs, too.) But Aldo says he pays his mom to cook and it's probably fair to guess that Rocco DiSpirito's mom wasn't on his restaurant's payroll.
Anyway, if you're in the mood for pizza, a calzone or a hot hero and Pizzas, you want it to be just like mom used to make, check out Venezia's.
Mediterranean Café, Ridha Bouajila's new Moroccan restaurant, is at 513 San Mateo NE (255-5244). The address we printed last week was incorrect.
Naked chefs. Am I the only one who's interested in seeing chefs au naturel? Obviously not, since last year we were treated to a calendar full of nude Taoseños in their kitchens. For 2005, you'll be able to ogle a baker's dozen of Santa Fe pinups with the newly released Chefs of Santa Fe Cooking in the Raw calendar. Now listen, I haven't seen the whole thing and I can't guarantee you won't be staring at a beached whale holding a lobster fork for the entire month of March (no offense to Mr. March—as I said, I haven't seen it) but hey, just let your curiosity get the best of you. The calendar costs $19.95 and all proceeds go to benefit Taos' Yaxche Learning Center Scholarship Program. The learning center is a nonprofit, nontraditional school that serves a diverse group of local families. For more information on Yaxche, go to www.yaxche.org. To order the calendar, go to www.taoscooking.com. To see a live chef naked, give me a call. Kidding! Don't you dare call me, you filthy perverts.
Be paid to get fat! If you have a tidbit of news that belongs in "The Dish," e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 346-0660 ext. 245 or fax 256-9651. The juiciest tidbits will be rewarded with gift certificates good at local restaurants.