Sometimes I crave Italian foods when I'm home in Albuquerque - chief among them good pizza and tasty salumi (Italian cold cuts). Here in New Mexico we don't have the large Italian communities found on the east and west coasts of the U.S., nor do we have a "Little Italy" neighborhood, but that doesn't mean that good Italian food is not to be found. It just takes a little research! And who could complain about doing some food research when it involves taste testing and good friends?
My favorite place to buy Italian foods in Albuquerque is a small spot called M'tucci's Italian Market & Deli. It is unique in that they cure their own meats in-house, make their own sausages and pastas, and bake their own breads. They also have a tempting array of imported cheeses, olives, marinated artichokes and peppers, along with imported Italian staples like canned tomatoes and flour. All this in a small but charming storefront that feels remarkably like an Italian mercato. Their slogan is "little place, huge flavors" and that is a good reflection of the quality of their products.
I recently heard that M'ucci's installed a new pizza oven - a huge, stainless mammoth of an oven. And since February 9 was National Pizza Day, what better time to take that new pizza oven for a spin? With that in mind, I met a couple of friends for lunch and had one of the best pizzas this side of Italy.
All of the pizza varieties sounded good but we settled on the "artisan" pizza. Pizza at M'tucci's starts with their own tangy sourdough based pizza crust. This was hands down the best pizza crust I've had since my last trip to Italy. It was topped with a light coating of a flavorful San Marzano tomato sauce, just the right amount of mozzarella, crispy house-cured pancetta, capicola and thin slices of proscuitto di Parma. Talk about love at first bite. Happy National Pizza day to me!
In addition to pizza, the menu includes soups, salads, charcuterie plates, sandwiches, pastas and desserts; I've enjoyed several of these dishes on earlier visits - all tasty. For a more extensive menu, M'tucci's Italian Restaurant is just a few steps away. I'll save that review for another time (hint: it's delicious).
Lunch was delightful and I couldn't leave without taking home some salami (soppressata and finocchiona), cheese (calciocavallo), and marinated artichokes. That just might hold me for while. -post by JB
Contacts: M'tucci's Italian Market & Deli, 6001 Winter Haven Road NW, Albuquerque, NM (505) 503-7327 website: mtuccis.com