Pizza is a true comfort food that makes the best kind of leftovers. I prefer a simple pie with a thin, crispy crust. I want to taste the tomato sauce (not a load of garlic), enjoy the cheese (but not too much), and gobble up every last bit of crust (because it’s that yummy). Fresh ingredients are always best, and I swoon for the aromatic divinity of fresh basil.
It may involve simple components, but making the perfect pizza isn’t easy. It requires skill, and these local spots have the process down pat.
Farina Pizzeria & Wine Bar (Downtown)
510 Central SE, Albuquerque
I’ve loved Farina since the first time I tried it as a college student at UNM, over a decade ago. And it’s a rare gem that has been genuinely delectable each and every time I’ve eaten it.
The Bianca, made with mozzarella, ricotta, truffle oil, sage, artichoke hearts, and grana padano, is the first pizza I ever ate there, and still one of my all-time favorites in New Mexico. It has this salty, umami goodness that comes from pairing good truffle oil with the briny tang of artichoke hearts.
On my most recent visit, I stuck with the classic Margherita. So simple, and so, so good. Topped with just the right amount of mozzarella—I don’t think pizza should be drowning in cheese, I want to see that sauce—and a healthy scattering of fresh basil, this one is a classic for a reason. It packs a punch, it’s fresh, and I ate almost the whole thing.
Farina pizzas are charred—not burned, but baked in an oven that maintains a heat between 600 and 850 degrees—which adds a savory, caramelized note that makes them extra delicious.
The vibe at Farina is one of a kind. The tables are set super close together, so it has a European laissez-faire. You’ll overhear other guests’ laughter and gossip as you dine, creating that restaurant buzz that is a quintessential part of eating out. They have a stellar wine list (I really like the Gazela Vinho Verde) and the staff is quick and kind.
Farina is the kind of spot you can dress up for and hit on date night, but also the kind of place where you can grab a pie on the way home after a long day. Their pizzas will be just as good, every. single. time.
Bonus: Farina’s specials menu features pastas, pizzas, and salads made with locally sourced, in-season ingredients. When I went for my birthday last winter, they had a penne with vodka sauce that was delightful. They also bake a house bread daily, which is a great vehicle to sop up every last bite of sauce.
724 Mountain NW, Albuquerque
It’s no rumor, this semi-new spot in the Wells Park neighborhood of Albuquerque is dynamite. I can’t count the number of times I made the forty-minute drive from my previous home in Corrales to get pizza at Rumor. I think I was addicted to it, and I continue to miss it six months after moving back to Santa Fe. In fact, I still have an alarm set on my phone to preorder their pies (which is the best way to guarantee you get one), which goes off at noon, Wednesday through Saturday, when their ordering system opens.
Maybe it’s the simple and high-quality ingredients at Rumor, like the fresh mozzarella from Grande Cheese, Stanislaus tomatoes, and Ezzo pepperoni (which turn into the cutest little pepperoni cups when they bake in the ovens); maybe it’s the general swagger of the space and its owners Shawn Medlock and Nick Vacca, or the electric deck ovens from PizzaMaster where all their pies are baked. Whatever the secret, there’s something really special about Rumor Pizza.
Every time I picked up my order from the little pitched-roof adobe, the guys were super kind and thanked me. But really, I was thanking them.
Rumor started in Medlock’s garage, blossomed into a pop-up, and took over the cozy space on Mountain Road late in the summer of 2021. Medlock used to be into baking bread, and I feel like you can see that practice play out in his pizza; there’s a slightly tangy taste to the crust, like there would be in a good loaf of sourdough.
My favorite (you’re probably starting to see a theme here) is the Cheese, a perfect harmony of mozzarella, tomato, and basil. My partner, Joel, is partial to the pepperoni (which beats other pepperonis with those perfect little meaty cups). Rumor Pizzas are eighteen inches, so they’re pretty large. But I still ordered two every time and ate so much I said I would never stuff myself so fully again. So much for tons of leftovers.
Tesuque Village Market
138 Tesuque Village, Santa Fe
I grew up just a few miles from this roadside spot, so it’s really nostalgic for me. The big wooden porch, bathed in sun, is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening. You can enjoy the outdoor seating year-round, but it’s particularly stunning in the fall when the leaves in the Tesuque Valley turn glorious shades of copper and gold.
The margaritas are fresh and strong, and the pizza is the best kept secret on the menu. They have a big wood-fired oven outside, and the pies it produces are thin crusted, crispy goodness, with that taste of almost-burnt toast that is a good third of what makes great pizza so craveable. An added bonus, they offer an abundance of toppings, with choices like chorizo, feta cheese, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, fresh or pickled jalapeños, and fresh arugula. I like to add olives and, like a good norteño, a bit of green chile to my cheesy pie. TVM pizzas are made with whole-milk mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, and Italian double zero flour.
Be aware that they don’t serve pizza before 4 pm, or every single night. So make sure to call ahead if your heart is set on pizza and you want to try theirs. You may be in for an extra wait if it’s busy (which it pretty much always is these days), but at least you have that stunning porch and a boozy beverage to help pass the time.
430 S Guadalupe, Santa Fe
Esquina was opened by Chef Nathan Mayes and Marja Martin, the enigmatic duo behind Paloma (which is right next door), who know their way around a restaurant and kitchen—and their mastery shows in the pies at Esquina.
I bet you can guess my favorite—it’s the Margherita—but I also really love the Pesto, which comes with basil pesto, parmesan, and mozzarella. If you’re more of a pizza maximalist, Esquina’s menu includes add-ons like red chile honey (holy yum), onions, roasted mushrooms, olives, anchovies, and hot Italian sausage. Their pizzas are roasted with a kiss of fire that gives the pizzas that authentic flavor and aroma. Esquina also serves classic salads. I love their Caesar because it’s not too creamy, not too anchovy forward, and comes with a healthy pile of parmesan. They’re only open Friday and Saturday, and you should preorder if you want to guarantee your pie.
Right now, they are in the process of adding patio seating in the back and are therefore on hiatus. Fear not, they will be back the first week of September with delicious pizzas, extended hours, and a limited selection of canned beer and wine.
Maria Manuela is a freelance writer based in Santa Fe, where she was born and raised. She works with publications like New Mexico Magazine and Hyperallergic, focusing on stories about creative New Mexicans. She spends all her free time with her partner, Joel, and their three pups, Darla, Hamlet, and Pea. She’s working on a collection of short folktales based in the Southwest.