Excellent gourmet pizza on Central in EDo
First visit: October 7, 2012
Urbanspoon lists 150 places in Albuquerque that serve pizza. Most ate rather ordinary, some are downright awful, and a handful are really good. I have found just two that serve what I call Real Gourmet Pizzas. Farina is one, and the other is Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria.
Pizza fans tend to get religious about different styles —New York, Chicago, thin crust, thick crust, deep dish, and so forth. I refuse to engage in such battles. I don’t care about these labels. Farina pizza is unique, and is of exceptional quality, with fresh and unusual ingredients and sauces, and the thin crust is so good that I eat every crumb. The crust is slightly charred (on purpose) and each delicious slice is a delightful handful.
We arrived at opening time on a Sunday afternoon and got a table at the front window (the other tables are smallish and crowded). You should start your meal with some of the finest Italian-style appetizers. Good beer selection and an extensive wine list are available (the wines are shared with Artichoke Cafe, which shares ownership with Farina and also shares the parking lot). By the time our drinks and appetizers arrived, the other tables were full. This is a hugely popular lace.
Meatballs al Forno
Al Forno means baked in the oven. These are not the usual meatballs done up in a skillet and doused with red sauce.
The meatballs are a mixture of beef, pork, and Parmesan cheese. Covered with an intensely rich and flavorful brown sauce, the dish represents the very best on Italian style cooking. The meat is very tender, never dry, and explodes all over your tastebuds. The sauce has a fantastic mouth feel.
Pasta e Fagioli
Bean & pasta soup, non-veg. White beans, chickpeas, potatoes, pancetta, garlic, onion, carrot, tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, salt,pepper, chili flakes.
This is a hearty, traditional Italian soup. Grandma Puglese, who lived down the hall from me in Brooklyn, always had a pot of this on her stove. I knocked on her door a lot. Farina’s version is of Italian grandma quality. Start every meal with a cup of this stellar soup.
Organic lettuces, roasted walnuts, apples, imported gorgonzola, champagne vinaigrette.
No ordinary salad this. Many inferior restaurants serve stupid salads. To me, the mark of a fine restaurant is the care with which the kitchen prepares their salads, and Farina shines here. The gorgonzola is just right. Great salad.
Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil.
This is a classically simple pizza. We added green chiles to the standard ingredients. I suppose that makes this an Albuquerque-style pizza. This pizza was not overloaded with gooey mozzarella. The balance of the fresh ingredients makes this an unusually excellent pie. The green chile strips were piquant and had that just-roasted taste. We polished off every bit.
Tomato sauce, sweet fennel sausage, roasted onion, mozzarella, provolone . I added green chile strips.
This is the pizza that I ordered. I ate the whole thing. If you go to Farina with me, I will not share it with you. Get your own.
The fennel sausage is among the very best I have ever tasted. Roasting the onions before baking the pizza is a stroke of genius. This pizza is tied with another at Nicky V’s for the best pizza that I can remember having anyplace.
No room left, so I’ll try some desserts next time. Which will be soon.
Farina Pizzeria has earned an Honorable Mention on my Albuquerque Top Ten List. Great staff and service. Fun place.
What Others Are Saying
Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite
“Farina Pizzeria is definitely a new-world pizza, perhaps the definition of “Albuquerque-style” pizza. Did I err in not naming it one of Albuquerque’s five best pizzas? Highly likely, but an equally great sin of omission was in not naming Golden Crown Panaderia’s pizza. My top five pizza list now has seven pizzas with Farina firmly ensconced in that list.”
local iQ — Golden Fork Awards: Best Slice of Pizza
“This is quite a contentious category in Albuquerque, and the one judge who voted for Nunzio’s (defunct) brought a tear to my eye. With so many different styles and variations of pizza, this is no easy question. However, the pizza at Farina Pizzeria, which technically can’t be ordered in slice form, was our panel’s favorite. When you go there, always make sure to look at the special pizza of the day, something that usually gets my vote.”