When I returned from working (very briefly) in Italy a few years ago, I was desperate for food that was just somewhat comparable. It felt like forever, but eventually I found my savior at Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria at their original location. Amore moved to Green Jeans Farmery less than a year ago, but business is booming already. I really like everything that Green Jeans has to offer but I really don’t like how crowded it gets on the weekend nights. It’s incredible how many different things are there (restaurants, a café, bars, a clothing store and a gym), but it is reflected in the size of each space—most places are tiny. On weeknights, it’s great. There’s plenty of space without a ton of people there and great views of the city. It’s one of the most communal spaces I’ve found in Albuquerque.The new Amore location is tiny in comparison to their old location—it reminds me of the allotted area in front of food trucks—there’s no space in the restaurant to eat, so you have to go into the shared indoor space that holds about 10-12 tables, the patio, balcony or one of the bars where they bring you your food order (the pizza pairs best with drinks from Santa Fe Brewery’s Taproom). It’s very convenient if you’re with a group of people and everyone wants different things; just decide on a meeting spot and everyone’s food can be delivered there.As someone who’s been loyal to this restaurant for years, I know what I like. For you readers, though, I decided to try a couple of new things. From the incredibly friendly and helpful staff, I ordered meatball sliders ($6), the classic (and very familiar to me) Margherita S.T.G. (Specialita Tradizonale Garantita, $9) and Diavola ($11). After a short wait my food was delivered to me on the patio.I had been craving meatballs recently, so I was particularly excited to finally try the meatball sliders. Presented on a medium sliced piece of bread similar to bruschetta, it threw me off. When I hear sliders, I think mini-burgers. My doubt was corrected when I took my first bite: The bread was toasted well, not too crunchy and not soft, and between the bread and the meatball was a slice of mozzarella with grated Parmesan. The mozzarella is made in-house, like many places in Italy, and it shows. Though a tad rubbery, it is so delicate and perfectly mild that every time I have it I’m nearly in complete bliss. The meatballs were perfect. Dreamily savory, tender and earthy, they are some of the best meatballs I’ve ever had within memory. All of those things combined, I think this may be my new favorite dish from Amore.Next was the Diavola, which contained tomato sauce (with tomatoes sourced from Italy), house-made mozzarella, Italian salami, pecorino Romano and Hatch red chile. The base of the pizza was something I’ve had mixed feelings about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but it’s so soft and … well, floppy. I’ve never been a pizza folder before but I felt like I had to fold the pizza to keep everything on the pie. I had no issue with the crust; it had a slight crunch on the outside and was soft and warm in the center. I had to rip it with my teeth and could still do that after it had been refrigerated with no real change in effort. It was just the center of the dough: I liked it. I liked that it absorbed the flavors of the pizza ever so slightly and without losing its clean flavor; I just didn’t like that it wasn’t firm enough to hold its toppings. Aside from that small issue, it was great. The tomato sauce was slightly acidic and had a hint of sweetness, but with the mozzarella achieved a delicious balance of marginally acidic, sweet and sour. The salami was wonderful. It wasn’t too dry but still tore apart easily and was pleasingly spicy. The pecorino Romano was sharp and salty. The entire thing was topped with Hatch red chile powder so the entire pizza was satisfyingly spicy.The final pizza was my favorite: the Margherita S.T.G. Whenever I try a new pizza place for the first time, this is the pie I order to see if the restaurant is legit. It’s such a simple thing to make, but so much can go wrong—the kitchen staff doesn’t really care, the ingredients aren’t quality, or the cooks just don’t know what they’re doing. Since I’ve been going to Amore for years now, I’m sure you can guess how they handle this classic: I love their Margherita pizza. It contains all the basic, yet high quality ingredients that Amore uses to elevate their pizzas: their dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella, plus the bold flavor of basil.Though I have mixed feelings about the venue, I highly recommend visiting Amore at their new location.
Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria3600 Cutler NE505-554-1967amoreabq.comHours: Sun noon-8:30pm, Mon-Thu 11am-8:30pm, Fri 11am-9pm, Sat noon-9pmVibe: Upper middleclass havenAlibi Recommends: meatball sliders, Margherita S.T.G., Hawaii 505, going on a Tuesday Night