M’Tucci’s Moderno Iralian Restaurant

Download PDF

Another jewel in the M’Tucci’s diadem

sign

Latest visit: March 25, 2017
First visit: January 26, 2017 

Best Newcomer: 2017

Best Newcomer: 2017

M’Tucci’s Moderno Italian Restaurant is the fourth jewel  in the crown of the M’Tucci’s empire. The owners, Jeff Spiegel and Katie Gardner, know how to put together a crowd pleaser. Inventive food and exemplary service are the rule in their places. Moderno is on my Best Rio Rancho Restaurants List, my ABQ Top Ten List, and I have awarded it my coveted Best Newcomer of 2017 Award even though the year is not yet one-quarter finished. That’s how good it is.

The Dazzler  and I were bedazzled by the food served at a soft opening of M’Tucci’s newest location in Rio Rancho two days before their grand opening. . Excellent food, ambience, and service all around. This is destined to become my newest favorite.
Moderno had its a full public opening on Friday, January 27. Go there. Here is a few words about some of the dishes on our first visit:

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

Charcuterie Board 

Sopressata Salami, Morbier Cheese, Homemade Rosemary Mustard, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Market Bread

Easily among the best I have tasted.

 

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach, Garlic, Heart of Palm, Four Cheeses, Toasted

Looks like an ordinary boring cocktail; party dip with pita wedges. Loops are deceiving. . Full rich and tasty mixture will have you begging for more.

 

Pan-Seared Salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon

Pan-Seared Salmo

Seared Fresh Atlantic Salmon, Roasted Artichoke, Sautéed Arugula, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Capers, Lemon Butter Sauce, Smoked Prosciutto Powder. (Deanell substitutes polenta for the mashed potatos).

All the M’Tucci’s venues do salmon insanely well. Moderno is no exception.

Gnudi

Gnudi

Gnudi 

Fresh Handmade House Ricotta Dumplings, Preserved Lemon, Olive Oil, Sautéed Spinach, Caramelized Onion, Pecorino, Bread Crumbs.

Surely you have had Gnocchi before. Gnudi is a relative, but made with ricotta instead of potatos. This is a real taste treat, and has become a new favorite.

Port Wine Bread Pudding

Port Wine Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding 

Port Wine Cherries, Chocolate Ganache, Whipped Mascarpone.
If this dessert geets to the regular menu,it will earn a place near the top of my Hall of Fame Bread Pudding List.


Three days after our first visit I returned and were treated to a house full of delighted patrons. This is without any advertising. Wore of a good thing spreads quickly.
It is now my newest favorite, and the Bread Pudding will appear near the top of my Best Bread Pudding List. More dishes:

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushrooms, Cream, Brandy, Roasted Portabella

This is not the cream of mushroom soup that you threw some chicken and rice into and baked in a casserole when you were a graduate student. It IS one of the very best soups I have ever had. Rish and smooth with a hauntingly earthy taste, it will have you crying for more.

 

Calamari

Calamari

Calamari with Garlic Aioli. 

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad 

Roasted Red Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Goat Cheese, Arugula, Sweet Potato Hay, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Lightly dressed with a very tasty vinaigrette. The dressing does not mask the slightly peppery taste of the arugula.

 

Duroc Pork Chop

Duroc Pork Chop

Duroc Pork Chop

House Cut 12oz Porterhouse, Artichoke-Parmesan Crust, Rosemary Mustard Butter Sauce, Grilled Garlic Polenta, Sautéed Baby Spinach.

Whether you grill, broil or bake these chops, they are known as the juiciest and most flavorful chops. Duroc pork chops are the equivalent of a bone in rib steak. They’re also 100% antibiotic and hormone free. Individually packaged & flash frozen to lock in freshness and flavor.
The exact origin of the Duroc breed is unknown. A number of red pig strains developed around 1800 in the United States in areas such as New York and New Jersey. The modern Duroc originated from crosses of the Jersey Red of New Jersey and the Duroc of New York.

John Haas performs his usual magic on them.

Brioche Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding 

Port Wine Cherries, Chocolate Ganache, Rich Vanilla Gelato. Superb.

Same dish as we had at the soft opening, but with a different presentation..

 

Pork Cheek Pappardelle

Pork Cheek Pappardelle

Pork Cheeks on Pappardelle

This dish is not on the menu, but it should be. The cheeks may be the tastiest part of the pig. Slow cooked and served with an excellent pappardelle.

This dish will appear on my Best Dishes of 2017. A new favorite.

From the bar.

Austin Leard behind the bar is every bit as much a magician as is John Haas in the kitchen. I love Rye Manhattans, and Austin will prepare a flight of three made from different very good ryes. His shrubs are unbelievably good, too

Rye Manhattans

Rye Manhattans

 


What others are saying

Gil Garduño—New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

“Habitues of the M’Tucci restaurant family will recognize the influence of Chefs Haas, Gray and Cronin on the menu at M’Tucci’s Moderno, a menu which mostly resembles that of the flagship albeit with more steaks and chops than its brethren.  In some ways, Moderno combines the best of its predecessors, offering for example, the charcuterie boards and market bread from the Market & Pizzeria as well as some familiar entrees heretofore available only at the mothership.  The menu is a delight to peruse.  Segmented into sections–antipasti, insalata & zuppa, pasta, secondi, artisan pizza/lavosh flatbread and contini–makes it easy to navigate though you might have a hard time deciding what to order.

 of Wild Mushroom<br>[Gi;]

of Wild Mushroom
[Gil]

“We also found every nuanced morsel absolutely delicious.  On a blustery February day, the cream of wild mushroom soup especially hit the spot.  Constructed from wild mushrooms, Shiitake, Cremini, Portabella, heavy cream, brandy and olive oil, it’s got the comforting, soul-warming properties of all great soups.  It’s a soup that penetrates deep into your taste buds and thoroughly satisfies your palate and belly.  It’s the type of soup this multi-time judge would love to see at the Roadrunner Food Bank‘s annual Souper Bowl next January (hint, hint).”

Pat Zimmernam—Yelp Elite 2017

Calamari

Calamari

“From beginning to end, everything was delightful including the exceptional service.  My server was so knowledgeable about the menu, advising me of the portions and ingredients.  I went for the calamari with garlic aioli and a margarita.  Great choice!  Their attention to detail was apparent with surprising touches, like the slice of cucumber in the water, very refreshing.  The calamari was battered with a crispy coating that was light and non-greasy.  It was tender, delicious and cooked perfectly.  With the garlic aioli, the flavor was over the top!

“If the excellence of the calamari portends what’s to come, we’re in for delectable bounty from experienced, thoughtful food experts who dedicate themselves to providing the finest produce for your pleasure and enjoyment.  This is a dinning experience that will create a wonderful memory for you and you’ll return again and again to be pampered and appreciated.”

Pan


M’Tucci’s Moderno 

yelp

Posted in Italian, Larry's Top Ten | Leave a comment

M’Tucci’s Italian

Download PDF

One of the best Italian restaurants in New Mexico

Panorama

Twenty-second Visit: November 13, 2016 
First Visit: February 19, 2015 


And the winner is.

And the winner is.

There are many Italian restaurants in The Duke City, but few can touch M’Tucci’s  Italian for brilliance. This is the flagship of the M’Tucci’s empire, which consists of an Italian Market and Dali (I’ve eaten there 46 times so far), a Cocina/Grill at the NHCC, and a catering business.

This is not a red-sauce-pasta house, and it is not a Northern Italian (Piedmont) place. It is a modern American Italian place, and as such, it excels at presenting the unusual but amazing dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The owners, Katie Gardner and Jeff Spiegel  (he’s the one in the Hawaiian shirt), and the highly talented chef and GM, John Haas, have created an institution that is unique.  And I love it. It has earned a place on my coveted Top Ten List.

Brunch and Lunch

Sunday brunch is not to be missed. Most restaurants servr Eggs Benedict, but none like this.

eggs Benedict eggplant

eggs Benedict eggplant

Eggs Benedict 

This excellent verso of Eggs Benedict does not sit on an English muffin. Rather, it sits on a lightly breaded slice of eggplant that has been gently fried to a tender crispiness while the interior is soft and runny like melted cheese. The egg yolks are perfectly runny. Good home fries with gently caramelized onions complete this dish.

This dish appears on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Tuna Tacos

Tuna Tacos

Blackened Tuna Tacos

My friend Jack Reynolds had these and was quite pleased. The side salad was nicely dressed with a tasty vinaigrette.

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Crispy Duroc Pork Belly, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, Green Apple, Pickled Red Onion, Local Feta

I am a pork belly freak. These were among the best I have ever had. Lovely blend of ingredients. I want these again.

Dinners and Extras

Here is where John Haas really shines. Listen carefully as your server rates the daily specials. I rarely order from the menu. The specials are amazing.

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Chocolate Martini

Chocolate Martini

The wine list has most anything you might want. The bartender creates very fine (and sometimes unusual) drinks. Try the Chocolate Martini and the Espresso Martini. Ask your server about the Shrubs. These sweet martinis are fabulous. Google the recipes.

Both surprised me, and I will continue to order them from time to time. I an a Bombay Sapphire extra dry with a twist guy.

Pappardelle and Salciccia

Pappardelle and Salsiccia

salsiccia

Pappardelle con Salsiccia  

Pappardelle, house-made sausage, kale, and a white wine-chicken stock sauce, and lemon zest.

This great dish is no longer on the menu, bi John will make it for me anytime.

The sausage is available at M’Tucci’s Market and Deli. I make this at home for guests visiting Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos. Chicken stock, white wine, and lemon zest (adds brightness).

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon 

Wild Salmon, Grilled Asparagus, and Creamy Grilled Polenta

Perfectly grilled salmon with tender asparagus and a cake of grilled polenta. The polenta is slightly crispy on the outside, and the inside is soft and creamy. Never dry.

This dish has become a favorite of several of my gastronome friends. Rightfully so.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Herb Marinated, Grilled Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Lemon

Perfectly grilled medium rare. Tasty and tender. The asparagus is always amazing here. Tender and never stringy. This also is a favorite of several of my friends, including Dazzling Deanell’s brother Darren.

Risotto

Risotto

RISOTTO CARNAROLI DE PESCE  with  

This is a beautifully prepared risotto. The fresh mussels are tender, juicy, and tasty. The texture of the rice could no be better. This dish kept my friend Pam from talking (nearly impossible). She finally came up for air when the dish ws nearly gone.  It’s that good.

Pork Shank

Pork Shank

Pork Shank 

Braised pork shank in a creamy sauce with sauteed greens

Whenever I can, I order Lamb Shanks in Italian and Greek restaurants. This was my first try at pork shanks. Delicious. Perfect appearance, taste, and texture. Slow cooked to the almost-falling-off-the-bone doneness, they are a big hit with me.

I had this dish two times in a row. Not on the current menu (they were a special), ask for them in advance. Get lucky.

Desserts and Fun Stuff

Chocolate Mousse 

Linda's Birthday

Linda’s Birthday Mousse
The sparklers are free

 

 

Fried Twinkie

Birthday Twinkie

Darren’s Birthday Fried Twinkie
Sounds disgusting, but it’s not.
At least, that’s what Darren says

 

M'Tucci's Panorama

What others are saying

Gil GarduñoNew Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner
Owners and Operators

“Katie Gardner and her husband Jeff Spiegel moved to Albuquerque, his hometown, in 2007. Eventually they started to miss the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business and launched M’Tucci’s Kitchina in July, 2013. The “M’Tucci” in the restaurant’s name is in honor of Richard Matteucci, a friend of Jeff’s. A framed black-and-white photo of Jeff, Richard and an unidentified frolicker celebrating a (very) good time hangs among the bric-a-brac. You’ve got to love an owner who shares in his fun.

John Haas

John Haas Chief Magician

“The visionary behind the menu is John Hass, executive chef and member of the restaurant’s ownership triumvirate. John’s interpretation of traditional foods often involves their deconstruction, refining and reinvention. You’ll still recognize the traditional dishes with which you’ve grown up, but they might not be exactly as you  John is already so highly regarded that he was named “best chef” runner up in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque Restaurants 2013.  Traditional items he prepares might not be exactly as you may remember them. They’ll be better! The ricotta stuffed cannelloni dish, for example includes both marinara sauce and New Mexico red chile which is why it’s sub-titled “Enchiladas Italianas” on the menu.”


M’Tucci’s Italian

Open Hours(505) 503-7327
Table reservation recommended

Paradise Hills
6001 Winter Haven Road
Albuquerque, NM 87120

gazeboMap

Website
Facebook
Dinner Menu

M'Tucci's Kitchina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in Italian, Larry's Top Ten | Leave a comment

The Point Grill

Download PDF

I’ll get right to the Point: The Point Grill rocks.

Shrimp

Taste of Rio Rancho 201

People’s Choice—Taste of Rio Rancho 201

Fifth visit: February 14, 2017
First visit: January 26, 2016

You say that Rio Rancho has no good eating places and refuse to cross the river? I say that there are at least four excellent Rio Rancho restaurants: Joe’s Pasta House, Namaste, M’Tucci’s Moderno, and The Point Grill. Gasoline is inexpensive now, so fire up your auto and get on over here.

Chef Mike White’s Point Grill is only a few minutes north of the Santa Ana Star Center, and it is a pretty drive to its Mariposa location. Mike’s cooking is highly inventive and downright excellent. This is why he won the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 Taste of Rio Rancho.

The Point does not have a huge menu, but the flavors are huge and the presentation is artistic. The view from the patio (soon to be enclosed)  is beautiful. Watch the mountain watermelon as you quaff your happy hour beverage (try the Bosque Brewery IPA—rich, flowery hops taste that  love).

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite dishes

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Creamy jalapeno grits with Cajun spiced shrimp. Topped with maple bacon, smoked provolone, a sunny-up egg, and scallions.

This is my favorite dish here. The combination of sweet (from the maple), salty (from the bacon), spicy (from the jalapeños), and cheesy make a flavor profile that will haunt you for days. This dish made its way onto my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

And now, in somewhat chronological order, comes the rest of the est.

Shrimp Po Boy

Shrimp Po’ Boy

Shrimp Po’ Boy

Served with ‘bang!’ sauce and house made pickles.

You needn’t fly to NOLA for a fine po’ boy. This is it, right here. Succulent shrimp lightly battered in a spicy coating, the tastes will tickle your palate. The sauce has a nice bang. Order it with a nice ale, and you will never go anyplace in the Duke City for a po’ boy.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Spicy Italian sausage, house made meatballs, grilled peppers and onions, and mozzarella.

When you try this,you will be transported to Italy. As is true for all of Mike’s dishes, this is a near-perfect blend of fresh tastes that just pop on your palate. The sauce barely coats the tender ziti.

 

Artichoke Chicken

Artichoke Chicken

Artichoke Chicken 

Grilled chicken and goat cheese on angel hair with artichoke, lemon, and capers

I have had this delightful dish several times, the latest being yesterday with the Dazzling Deanell. The light sauce is gently herby. The goat cheese is an outstanding and tasty addition. The angel hair is as good as it gets, and perfectly cooked. Another outstanding dish.

Crabcake Benny

Crabcake Benny

Crabcake Eggs Benedict

Cajun crab cakes atop dressed spring mi; topped with poached egg, hollandaise and Cajun seasoning

Many of you know that I am a crabcake freak. I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay, and I still make them at home from my prize-winning recipe.  Mike is from Virginia Beach, and adores blue crab. It shows in his dish. Perfect Hollandaise atop prperly poached egg atop his cracake. Wonderful. I want more.

Sunrise Burger

Sunrise Burger

Sunrise Burger

Served with avocado, bacon, Havarti, and a sunny-side-up egg.

I usually am a Green Chile Cheeseburger (competition style), but this amazing burger has changed mi mind: It is fabulous. Medium-rare juicy beef, and loaded with taste, this should not e missed. Sloppy—you might need a knife and fork, or at least a pile of napkins.

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Served with crispy bacon and gooey melted blue cheese.

This is one heckuva mouthful. One of the very best burgers I have ever had (and I certainly have had my share). Perfectly cooked juicy medium-rare beef drips down your cheeks. Difficult to handle if you have a beard.

Get sautéed mushrooms on the side. Yum.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Just loaded with large, succulent chunks (not those puny bits) of lobster tail meat.


Mike presented us with a preview cup of one of the dishes that will be served Last night (Valentine’s Day) this evening. The special dinner was all sold out. These events are popular, so if you want to go to one, get your oar in early. 

Epilogue

Point has been open for about 18 months. It is going strong. For lunch yesterday, it was so crowded that Dazzler and I had to sit at the bar (along with two other couples. There are several reasons for this success. First, I think Mike White is a genius in the kitchen. He is partners with the building owner (my entrepreneur friend Dale Hansel).

It is so successful that they will expand into the vacant space next door (you read it here first).  I think that the excellent food, marketing, and management will ensure that Point will continue to be a rousing success.

The Point is now listed in Larry’s Top Ten.


What Others are Saying

Gil GarduñoNew Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite 

Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers

“The Point Grill in Rio Rancho’s Mariposa master-planned community. If you’re thinking “that’s too far,” think of going there as a New Year’s resolution (we’re not that deep into 2016) to journey outside your neighborhood in pursuit of new culinary adventures.  Better still, think of it as a treat (you owe it to yourself) in that you’ll get to experience a meal that competes with Joe’s Pasta House and Namaste as the best in the city and among the best in the metropolitan area.  That’s what our friends Dave and Joe have done and they live almost as far east as you can go while still being in Placitas. Dave and Joe introduced us to The Point which has become one of their favorite restaurants, distance be damned.

Apple Cobbler

Apple Cobbler

“By popular request, Chef White has figured out how to package his magnificent desserts for guests who want to enjoy them at home.  While it’s possible their aesthetic appeal may lose something by virtue of being jostled on the ride home, they’re bound to be just as delicious once you get there (at least during the winter when the cold prevents ice cream from melting).  These are desserts you’ll dream about.  Just ask my friends Larry McGoldrick and Dazzling Deanell who’ve made the trek to the Point several times and are still raving about it.

“Get to The Point! It may be a bit of a drive for many of you, but the destination is worth the drive. The Point is destination dining at its best!”


The Point Grill Details 

Hours pointMap

2500 Parkway Ave
Rio Rancho, NM 87144
Phone number(505) 903-7453

locationWebsite
Facebook
Menu 

yelp

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Larry's Top Ten, Rop Rancho | Leave a comment

Previews of Coming Attractions

Download PDF

Last Revised on February 24, 2017. 

As I get older and wiser, I find that my eyesight is slowly deteriorating. It is getting more trying to write as many reviews as often as has been my habit. From now on, I will be very selective about what I post here. Here is my plan:

All restaurant reviewed here must be

  • Outstanding — among the very best that New Mexico has to offer, or
  • Unique — in a class all by itself.

I won’t write a review until I have been there at least four times. As always, I welcome your suggestions. Here is what is in the queue right now.

Except for some special events such as Wine Pairing Dinners. Like this one at Blade’s.

PS: I am no longer linking to Zomato. They pissed me off. Try Yelp instead. 


Salmon with Polenta

Salmon with Polenta

M’Tucci’s Modern Italian

yelp

 

 

 

 

 

Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Savoy Bar and Grill

yelp

 

 

 

 

 

Catfish

Catfish

Bucket Headz Southern Home Cooking

yelp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Asparagus Rollup

Chicken Asparagus Rollup

Aura European Mediterranean Restaurant

yelp

Posted in Fun Stuff, Gossip, Information, Restaurant Posts | Leave a comment