Pizzas have come a long way since 1905, when the first American pizzeria opened in New York. While pies originally consisted of just dough and tomato sauce, nowadays they are festooned with toppings, from the classic to the gourmet. Here are some of the best pies that Santa Fe has to offer.
So, you like pizza? How about BLTs? Then you’ll love Rooftop Pizzeria’s No. 5 pizza. This pie expertly combines cooked ingredients such as crunchy bacon and three different cheeses with raw elements like chopped tomato, a mountain of crisp romaine, and avocado slices. In fact, the abundance of toppings almost – but not quite – overwhelms the thin pie crusts. In addition to a gluten-free option, Rooftop also crafts crusts made from blue corn dough. Blue corn was originally cultivated by the Native American tribes of the Southwest, and it results in a chewy crust with a pleasing nutty flavor. To truly embrace emblematic, Southwestern ingredients, consider ordering the No. 3, which includes green chiles and toasted piñon nuts. Anyone hoping for a ride on the gourmet toppings bandwagon won’t be disappointed, as Rooftop’s build-your-own choices range from roast duck to sautéed squash.
Pizzeria da Lino is an optical illusion of a restaurant: from the front it appears tiny, but those who step inside discover an expansive dining area. However, the pies here are far from gargantuan. Each is a standard ten inches in diameter and is intended to feed one person (bear that in mind when ordering). The folk at Pizzeria da Lino have truly mastered the white sauce pizza and the pera tre formaggi is unmissable. Walnuts provide richness while the gorgonzola is a burst of tartness on the tongue that is mitigated by sweet pear. The crust – cooked in a wood-fired oven – emerges thin and crunchy. This was the only time I resorted to thumb war to determine who scored the last slice of pizza!
Il Vicino also turns out wood-fired pizzas using techniques that chef Tom White (no relation) learned in Italy. Considering his background, it’s no surprise that the pizzas feature less typical toppings such as capocollo ham, an Italian boiled ham that is usually crusted in spices. Try it on the Da Vinci, which pairs this lightly-salted, thick-cut meat with artichoke hearts and sautéed portobello mushrooms. Although Il Vicino is bustling year around, it’s an ideal place to hit in summer when diners can relax on its covered, enclosed patio. There are now nine Il Vicino locations in the region, but New Mexico was the birthplace of this pizzeria.
Date night doesn’t have to be expensive at Café Café, which offers an unbeatable deal. If you order the Pizza Bird Special before 6 p.m., it only costs $29 for two glasses of house wine, bread, salad, and a pizza with two regular toppings. Despite the budget-friendly pricing, the atmosphere is classier than the average pizza joint: soft music plays, the staff is attentive, and the décor mostly veers away from vinyl. The pizza crust bridges the gap between thin and thick, and the green bell pepper with crumbled Italian sausage is a good bet.
Juliet White co-writes Southwest Compass, a travel blog devoted to the American Southwest, which has a section specifically for food lovers. She is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.