Friday, August 31, 2012

Good News!!

This will be the last time that I write about pizza for awhile. Why? First, we know from experience that our travels over the next month or so will take us out of range for good pizza. Second, it is getting hard to find anything new to say about pizza. In fact, I almost didn’t write today’s blog, but there were some interior visuals that I couldn’t let go to waste.

“Pizza Espiritu, filled with the wonderful aroma of baking pizza and simmering sauces, has a neighborhood restaurant feeling to it. The ambiance…is surprisingly sophisticated….
The subdued lighting makes it a little hard for aging eyes to read the menu but sets a relaxed tone…. Espiritu has a loyal following, based on reasonable prices, friendly, efficient service and a flexible menu with something to please most everyone…” (Anne Hillerman at

“The name Pizzeria Espiritu reflects the deep-seeded faith of its founder and owner Tom Berkes, the liturgy and music director at St. Joseph’s Church in Cerrillos since 1990…. (I)t is Berkes’ goal to create a fun atmosphere where people can come in and enjoy themselves while they partake of good food. To that end, he has created a beautiful space, which, aside from the frontage’s stucco exterior, is so un-Santa Fe-like…. Pizzeria Espiritu looks more like a restaurant you’d find in a larger, more cosmopolitan city, maybe even a city in Italy.
The centerpiece, a fourteen-foot original oil painting by artist Gary Larson, hangs not on one of the restaurant’s walls but on the ceiling…. That painting is based on Michelangelo’s
“Creation of Adam,” a fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted in 1511. The painting illustrates the Genesis story in which God the Father breathes life into Adam, the first man” (

But my eyes were drawn to the (Do I say strange? Do I say unique?) art on the walls, which bore the signature (in block letters) of someone named Brumble. An online search for information on the artist proved futile, so I can provide nothing by way of biography. Suffice it to say, this is not art—especially the piece with the hands on a keyboard—that I would want hanging in my living room.

Pizzeria Espiritu’s menu offers a full range of Italian items, but we were there for pizza which can be had in thin crust or deep dish styles. (I don’t consider deep dish to be pizza. It’s a casserole!) We decided to order one small (ten-inch) cheese and Italian sausage and one small cheese and fresh basil.

Gil Garduno describes the sauce used at Pizzeria Espiritu thusly:
“Unlike at many pizzerias, the tomato sauce at Pizzeria Espiritu isn’t baked in completely into the bread or cheese where it’s lost among the other flavors. It doesn’t run off the pie either. Instead, there’s a perfect amount of sauce–enough to be discernable, but not enough to dominate the pizza either. It’s a perfect complement to the other ingredients” (

I hate to quibble with my authority on all things food New Mexico, but both pizzas suffered from an excess of sauce. And a sauce that was, in my opinion, way too sweet. How I long for the uncooked crushed San Marzano tomatoes sauces used at Settebello in Salt Lake City and at Ancora in New Orleans. The sauce was particularly overpowering on the Margherita where there were no mitigating flavors other than a little basil to ease the sweetness.

The Italian sausage pizza was more successful. While it still had more sauce than we would have liked, it was topped with plenty of good mildly fennel sausage and just enough cheese—we, as always,
specified light cheese—on top of a wonderfully thin and almost cracker-like crust.

Pizzeria Espiritu has been named as one of Pizza Today's Top 100 Restaurants and their pizzas are among the best we have eaten in New Mexico.

Still, in a city full of foodies, you would think that there would be a market for good wood fire oven pizza. We can only hope that one will open before we make a return visit to Santa Fe.

With some tweaking—like reducing the amount of sauce—we think that Pizzeria Espiritu could produce a cheese and sausage pizza that we would enjoy. But for this lunch, 3.5 Addies is all we can grant.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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