Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It Took the Use of Two GPS Devices…

plus a bit of dumb luck to find this place. One GPS kept telling us to make right turns that resulted in our going in a circle. The other is programmed to think we are a fully loaded eighteen wheeler and didn’t much like the narrow street on which we were traveling. Finally, with nary a “You have reached your destination. Your route guidance is now finished.” we located our objective on a back road in a residential neighborhood of Santa Fe. And we have concluded that this place is aptly named: Backroad Pizza.

I have never found New Mexico to be the epicenter of good pizza, so when we saw Backroad Pizza featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, we added this to our list of “must eats” while staying in Santa Fe. As described on the restaurant’s website: “We make a New York style thin crust pizza with a Santa Fe twist to it. We are your off the beaten path, around the corner local neighborhood pizza shop that’s casual, fun, friendly, and affordable. We have a rad crew of folks that you will get to know and love….We now offer a delicious gluten free pizza crust that is made from scratch.... We are committed to partnering with local farms and producers and are super proud to be part of the Farm to Table's Farm to Restaurant distribution project….

Farm to Restaurant is described on urbanspoon.com as: “…a program of Farm to Table: a non-profit organization located in Santa Fe, NM, that works to promote locally based agriculture through education, community outreach and networking. Farm to Table enhances marketing opportunities for farmers; encourages family farming, farmers’ markets and the preservation of agricultural traditions; influences public policy; and furthers understanding of the links between farming, food, health and local economies. Farm to Restaurant reinforces the importance of sustainable, local food systems by enabling restaurants to use local ingredients.”

“Backroad Pizza has been in the Top 40 Favorite Restaurants of Santa Fe in The Reporter five years running and has received nods from both local and national sources. We are featured in the Travel book Treasures of New Mexico…and were featured on the Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri...” (backroadpizza.

Backroad Pizza conveys an atmosphere of urban hip (Is it unhip to use the word “hip”?), and the dĂ©cor is spare semi-industrial.

No one was able to tell us to what previous use the building had been put but we did make special notice of the garage-like door.

You can eat in one of three locations. There is an outdoor patio outfitted with umbrella tables.

There is an upstairs billiards area with dining tables.

And there is the main dining area on the first floor, which is where you place your order at the counter before finding a seat.

In addition to pizza, the menu contains short selections of appetizers, salads, and subs. Each day, one or more house-made soups are offered. The three that day—green chile chicken, tomato basil, and gazpacho—all sounded good, but we took a pass. We wanted pizza.

“The thought of large, beautiful pizza made with floury dough is a pleasing sight. The heady aroma fills one with a sense of calm. ’Yes,’ it seems to say, ‘you will enjoy this.’”

“Every good pizza begins with the crust, and at Backroad Pizza, the crust is done right, baked to perfection with just the right balance of crunch on the outside and a toasty, chewy center. If you appreciate a good sauce, Backroad’s red sauce is fragrant and smooth, and sloppy in that ‘store-bought sauce (sucks); we use whole ingredients’ kind of way” (sfreporter.com).

We decided to share two small (twelve-inch) pies, one of which had to be the Margherita. But Backroad’s version used both tomato sauce and tomatoes so we asked that the latter be omitted. What makes Backroad’s pizza unique is the addition of a small amount of cornmeal to the crust. This makes for a slightly heavier or more substantial crust and provides an additional measure of crispness. But while the writer at sfreporter.com liked the sauce, we thought it was too-long cooked and overly sweet.

The pie over which Guy Fieri went bananas (and to Guy, “Bananas is good”) was the New Mexican with red onion, pepperoni, and green New Mexico chiles. But I wanted neither red onions nor pepperoni. So I made my own with Backroad’s house-made Italian sausage and green chiles.
And what didn’t work on Chuck’s pie did work here. First, the fennel sausage and green chiles muted (or hid) the sweetness of the sauce. Second, the cornmeal-laced crust seemed to be a better fit with the chiles. It was almost like a giant tostada with Italian sausage.

This isn’t pizza that I would want to eat on a regular basis. Still, if someone told me that they would treat me to a Italian sausage and green chile pizza at Backroad, I wouldn’t turn down the offer. Still, our recent meal there earns 3.5 Addies.

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

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