Amadeo’s Pizza and Subs
Pizza on the edge
There are a lot of places in Albuquerque I just haven’t bothered to visit. They’re mostly places I’ve never heard of, down streets I can’t find and in parts of town that I’d be hard-pressed to point out on a map. It’s not a lack of interest or curiosity that keeps me away—it’s my sense of direction. Truth is, if it wasn’t for architects thoughtfully and consistently placing ceilings above my head, I really wouldn’t know which way was up.
So venturing beyond those streets that feel familiar to me requires careful planning, a pep talk and a visit to Google Maps.
This is how I came to visit both locations of Amadeo’s on Coors and on 98th Street. I managed to find both with little trouble but with lots of slow driving down roads with no recognizable landmarks.
You’ll get the same food at either location, but for aesthetic reasons, haul your ass over to 98th Street. Loud video games and all the trappings of a neighborhood pizza joint seem par for the course until Monet and Renoir prints catch your eye. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I like it. What can I say: I’m a fan of irony.
There are no surprises at this fairly typical pizza parlor, but that’s what this place has going for it. You hit Amadeo’s when you just want straight-up pizza—no frills, no fancy footwork, just pizza. And subs. And pasta. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Pizza can safely be judged by its crust. Bad crust, bad pizza. No exceptions. When it comes to hand-tossed crust, it should be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. This type of crust forms the quintessential foundation for the sauce, toppings and cheese it must support. Amadeo’s does a bang-up job on its crust and has for 20 years.
For toppings, I favored the "fire eater." Green chile, jalapeños and pepperoni piled onto that primo crust looked intimidating at first, but the pie proved to be blazing more with flavor than heat. It’s spicy but not so spicy that your taste buds have to grow back before food can be enjoyed again.
You can bank on getting good pie here. From plain old cheese to the "super combo"—
It’s spicy but not so spicy that your taste buds have to grow back before food can be enjoyed again.
The subs rated just as high. Toasted rolls, baked locally, are stuffed with your choice of meat (salami, ham, meatballs and so on), cheese and veggies. The meatballs are totally boss. Not too heavy with an almost silky texture, they come drowned in a spicy tomato sauce and smothered in mozzarella cheese. It's not the greatest cheese, but the rest of the ingredients more than make up for it. Subs are available in damn near any size, up to 10 feet.
And now for the rest of the story. Skip the pasta. It has what I like to call “rinsed spaghetti syndrome.” Pasta is made of wheat, a rather starchy grain. When cooked, the starch releases and clings to the noodles. This gummy coating allows sauce to adhere to the pasta, perfectly blending dough and flavoring. Many restaurants cook their pasta partially and then hold it until you request it. Then it’s dipped back in boiling water to reheat and finish cooking. Unfortunately, this process effectively strips the starchy coating, resulting in slippery strands of spaghetti that leave the sauce on your plate and a disappointing slimy mass of bland bucattini in your mouth. This is what I found at Amadeo’s.
The cannoli fared about the same. I like the small size (they come four to an order), and the pastry shells are crunchy and tasty, but the filling was less than stellar. It was flavorful but had a strange gritty texture that was more distracting than enjoyable. They offer other desserts, so ask what’s available.
I like Amadeo’s. Even though I don’t like its far-out locations, I’d go again. All it takes is getting in your car and driving to the very edge of Burque, where you'll be rewarded with great pizza and confusing décor. Do you need a better reason?