A New Go-To
Especially for the ain’t-gots
Pop culture would have you believe that only New York and Chicago do the pizza joint justice. Not so. In fact, I bet every gourmand in town probably has a list of pizza go-tos, and we have a grip of quality spots to choose from. One of the unwritten laws of these go-to spots is that of the unconscious, sensory experience. Call it an accumulation of sights, sounds, tastes … you know, the feel of a joint. To that end, I offer up another pizza go-to for your consideration—Old Town Pizza Parlor—based largely on flavor, and another of the senses: smell.
The vintage perfume of a pizzeria (at least for this gourmand) is that intoxicating, chewy scent of rising dough with a hint of burnt flour and cornmeal from the scorching ovens, plus the smoke of oil from the meats and cheeses. And Old Town Pizza Parlor—standing vigil on the southwest corner of Old Town in an old, thick-walled adobe with Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison mixing in with the occasional 1950s crooner—welcomes us with all of it. The staff is friendly and eager to help, there’s a lunch buffet that’s filling and easy on the wallet, and I even hear tell of a beer garden—something to check out in warmer weather. Ordering is done at a counter, everything all at once—which makes the question of dessert tricky. But with such generous portions, it could be that dessert’s not much of an issue by meal’s end, because chances are you’ll either end up splitting dishes or leaving with leftovers (a good problem to have).
A great choice if you want a little pizza taste but are planning on an entrée is the pepperoni roll ($5.50). Pizza dough, baked thin and crispy, lightly dusted with herbs, and mozzarella that melts like silk; the whole thing is balanced by exactly the right amount of pepperoni so you're not overpowered by the spicy oils. It comes with two dipping sauces (marinara and creamy Italian) both perfectly executed. It you’re ordering pizza, then try the meatball sliders ($6.99) to start. It’s three soft buns, a melt of mozzarella plus a slather of marinara and the meatballs just barely hold together in a luscious and juicy bite. Again, the bread is baked to perfection. If it’s a soup you’re after, the tomato soup ($3.99) will do nicely. It’s a cream-based soup with loads of garlic and fresh basil to give it punch. I’d always take more spice, but a quick shake of red pepper flakes, and I found a well-balanced bowl (with a cheesy slider to dunk) that delivered on the warm, autumn promise of soup season.
The vintage perfume of a pizzeria (at least for this gourmand) is that intoxicating, chewy scent of rising dough with a hint of burnt flour and cornmeal from the scorching ovens, plus the smoke of oil from the meats and cheeses.
For a sandwich, the Albuquerque Turkey sandwich ($7.99) is a go-to. There’s not a bad piece of bread in the entire restaurant, and the roasted turkey is Thanksgiving grade. The creamy mayo/mustard blend was a terrific surprise, and the only way to make the sandwich any better is with green chile and bacon—so that’s just what they did.
The green chile alfredo ($8.99) is a half-casserole dish of al dente fettuccine loaded with thick, creamy alfredo—a dish that will stick to your ribs as these evenings grow cold. The green chile is hot enough to cut through the cream but with just enough smoky flavor for even the most timid palates. There's plenty here for 2-3 people, and the fresh parsley and browned crust of the broiled top gave char and texture to each bite. I went with more salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, because I like it spicy, and I’ll add chicken or sausage next time, but it’s still great without it.
Finally, the pizza. I built my own ($12.50 + $2.25 per topping) with the spicy sauce which kept the lips buzzing, roasted chicken and, of course, green chile. The crust was thin, just how I like it, and the toppings generous without turning the whole pie soggy. Each slice holds its shape, and pound-for-pound, the pie can hold its own with the best in town—always a delight to discover a new spot like that!
For dessert, if you ordered up front or wisely saved room, take the Wicked Devil ($5.99). It’s half brownie, half chocolate chip cookie—served warm and gooey with a scoop of vanilla ice cream … so what’s not to love? As with every dish on the menu, there's plenty to share.
As a native New Mexican, I love seeing the best of all possible pizza worlds fused into something distinctly our own. To that end, I recommend putting Old Town Pizza Parlor on your list of to-dos … or list of pizza go-tos …preferably when friends or family from Chi-town or the Big Apple come to visit! Because while they surely do their regional pizza up right, they ain’t got green chile!
108 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am-9pm Sat: noon-9pm Sun: noon-8pm