Save it for the morning after
Procuring a hot pizza pie in this town can be easy, but the quality is not always above the bar. Ordering pizza from a delivery chain is a straightforward process—that is, until the driver shows up at the door. I’ve had my share of cold, sticky cheese, orders of hot wings lost in the Bermuda triangle and, worst of all, the parade of pizzas lacking heat, toppings and even sauce. This is why I was really looking forward to picking up a nice, fat pie from homegrown Rio Rancho staple Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria.
I visited the takeout/delivery-only pie parlor on a weekday in the afternoon, and owner Sal was there. He was friendly and personable and even gave my kid a ball of pizza dough to play with. The menu is short and sweet with four sizes of pizzas: a small 12-inch ($7.95), large 16-inch ($10.95), 12-inch-by-16-inch Sicilian ($12.95) and 24-inch New York giant ($20.95).
The catch is that these prices are for blank cheese pizzas, and each topping costs an extra $1, $1.50 or $2.25, respective to the size of the pizza. The cost added up fast on the Sicilian I ordered ($12.95 plus $12 for eight toppings, for a grand total of $24.95). The 12-piece wings were $7.95, and the Italian burrito ran $7.75 a pop, so altogether (with a single can of soda and tax) my ticket came to $45.
Whew! But the pizza was definitely huge. The box was heavy as a concrete block, and some stray toppings were squeezing their way out the sides. I snagged a stray mushroom and a pepperoni, only to discover the mushrooms were canned.
I was disappointed. Watery canned mushrooms are relatively useless, and just plain gross when compared to the delicate, meaty flavor of a fresh mushroom. They should be relegated to stocking bomb shelters, or maybe a reality show where there's a prize for finishing off the can. The pepperoni was better.
At home, we broached the rectangular pie and dug in. My order was smothered with chunks of green pepper, green and black olive slices, oversized nuggets of spicy hamburger, sliced ham and pepperoni and the canned mushrooms, overlaying a just-right amount of sauce and baked to a firm consistency. I requested the anchovies be confined to one side, but I had to poke around to discover which side that was.
Unfortunately, the thick crust was not at all to my liking. It was charred on the outside, slightly doughy on the inside and appeared to the eye (and mouth) to more closely resemble heavy focaccia bread than pizza crust. I examined my slice more closely and was surprised to see what looked like a pre-baked crust, with the toppings and cheese added later and reheated. Interesting. That could account for its black bottom.
The wings came with the standard orange-colored, vinegary sauce. They were, you know, chicken wings—not bad, but not particularly noteworthy, either. I moved on to the Italian burrito. This calzone-like creation wraps pizza dough around marinara sauce, cheese, sliced meatballs and green chile. I had a thick slice, and I liked it better than the pizza.
But the big question now was: Could the pizza and burrito pass the morning-after-cold-from-the-fridge test? Early the next day I tried a slice of the burrito. It was much better cold, and actually delicious with a glass of milk. I had another slice, and a half-slice of pie. Yep. This pizza is best served cold. In the end, I may not have been blown away with Sal-E-Boy's for dinner, but it turns out this food is better suited for a breakfast of champions.
The Alibi Recommends:
Sicilian pizza, cold from the fridge
Italian burrito, cold from the fridge
Sal-E-Boy’s Pizzeria, 1706 Southern (Rio Rancho), 892-5454. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Price range: inexpensive to moderate. No smoking, MC and Visa accepted, no booze, takeout and delivery only.