So apparently 2013 was a banner year for authentic Italian food in ABQ, I just didn't find out until 2+ years later. That was the year Frost Gelato landed at ABQ Uptown, filling the gelato void to delicious effect (I discovered it last summer). But that's nothing compared to Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria, which at long last has brought authentic, top-notch Neapolitan-style pizza to New Mexico.
Amore boasts a bit of a pedigree. They sport the APN pizza certification, which I hadn't heard of (the more established AVPN certification is a serious credential even in Italy -- this appears to be an American upstart), and they cook their pizza in a 900+ degree wood burning oven imported from Italy. Ingredients are all hyper-authentic: Italian 00 flour, Ciao brand DOP San Marzano tomatoes, and best of all, house made mozzarella.
I only got to try a few red pizzas on this visit. They weren't quite 100% perfect, but they got awfully, awfully close. The quick bake in the hellishly hot oven yielded a crust with a thin, crispy exterior dotted with some lovely char, and while the inside of the crust was ever so slightly too chewy for me it was absolutely well into the right ballpark. As is customary, the "sauce" was just a rough crush of raw tomatoes and some salt, which yielded the bold, fresh taste on which this minimalist style of cooking depends; the Ciao tomatoes were the best I've had other than La Valle, both of which taste and even look brighter and bolder than any other brands I know. And the house made mozzarella was truly excellent: fresh, stretchy, and sweet. I'll quibble that on the margherita they added the fresh basil before baking and I prefer it added afterward, but the fact that this was their biggest crime should give an idea of just how right everything was. Looking forward to getting back and trying some of the white pizzas, some of which looked pretty fantastic. I'm also pleased that they relaxed their dogmatic authenticity enough to include green chile and a few other NM-style ingredients on the menu.
Located in the Green Jeans Farmery complex at Carlisle and the I-40, Amore is part of what appears to be essentially a hipster food court (also a taco place, a sandwich place, an espresso place, an ice cream place, and more, all semi-upscale, hip, and modern). Counter service only, there are some tables just outside the restaurant, along with some outdoor seating for the warmer months. But even better: they'll walk your pizza over to the Santa Fe Brewing Co. tap room next door, which makes for a pretty killin' 1-2 punch for dinner.
Prices are, frankly, alarmingly low for the quality, to the point where I'm worried about sustainability. A personal sized pizza margherita is $8.50, and the most expensive specialty pizza (with prosciutto and white truffle!) is $14. Despite the small square footage, rent can't be cheap, and Santa Fe Brewing is getting the alcohol markup, so...well, I just hope they're making their margins. Maybe Green Jeans will work as an incubator and Amore can eventually move out, get their own place, make a ton of money, and please, please stick around for a long time.
Amore is a simply wonderful addition to the city and the state. I can't wait to get back here again and again. I just hope they're doing what they have to do to stay.