OK, I'm the first to admit I'm a total snob when it comes to Neapolitan-style pizza. And I try not to hate on any precious snowflake restaurants that need all the good reviews they can get. That said, Farina Pizzeria appears to be printing its own money right now, and a lot of people seem to be saying it's the real deal, so let me go ahead and provide some counterpoint: dude, this is not particularly good pizza.
They're doing plenty of things right, notably a cool beer menu and a respectable, reasonably-priced wine list, plus the vibe is undeniably convivial and fun. That said, every core element of the pizza is lacking:
Sauce - easily the most glaring problem. If you're making a "real" Neapolitan pizza margherita, the sauce isn't even sauce, it should just be a raw puree of top-quality San Marzano tomatoes, flash cooked when you bake your pizza in your hellishly hot oven. Farina is doing some kind of precooked deal with assorted herbs, resulting in dullish flavors that seriously bring down the pie.
Cheese - a few specialty pizze aside, this should be fresh mozzarella, period. Given the cooked sauce, I understand that some asiago added a little brightness, but as far as I was concerned, it didn't belong there. If you're using good mozzarella, all the asiago will do is crowd out the sweetness of the mozzarella.
Crust - nice char, but unpleasantly tough. This could have been from any number of missteps, especially a not-hot-enough oven (as in under 900 or 1000 degrees, fairly likely given that I don't believe they have a wood-burning oven), or too short a rise on the dough, but whatever the reason, the crust here is way too crunchy, with no mitigating tenderness on the inside.
I should also be clear in saying I had a really fun evening at Farina. Had a couple of great, hard-to-find beers, and the pizza is completely edible. Nice toppings, fair prices (Sundays/Mondays you get a pizza margherita and a pint for a cool 10 bucks), cool urban vibe. But I just can't agree with the people who say it's as good as the pizza they've had in Italy, or as good as Pizzeria Bianco. I'd go back to Farina for a fun night with friends, but I'll continue to get my favorite local takeout from Giovanni's, and make my favorite local Neapolitan at home.
510 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM
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