Thursday, February 27, 2014

Imagine My Surprise

…when I found a pizzeria in the Number Four spot on Trip Advisor’s list of best restaurants in Las Cruces, NM. And imagine my surprise when I found these magic words written on the menu: “Due to the extreme temperatures in our oven, the crust will take on a charred appearance – this is the sign of a correctly baked pizza and should not be thought of as burned…” This we need to check out—Zeffiro Pizzeria Napoletana.
“Until recently, Las Cruces was home to mostly bad locally produced pizza…. But now Las Crucens enjoy several good choices, including a new small chain, Red Brick; pizza with a New York attitude at Eddie's Done Deal Pizza; and, best of the best, Zeffiro Pizzeria Napoletana, which finally gives one reason to go downtown.
“Located and nicely remodeled into the Popular Dry Goods store, one of the last to go belly-up in downtown, Zeffiro has struck a chord with many Las Crucens. Owner Gary Ebert (Ed. Note: along with his wife Anne Marie) and his very attentive and efficient staff serve up gourmet-style pizza on hand-tossed crusts...” (
“When Gary Ebert relocated his family from Boise, Idaho to Las Cruces,...southern New Mexico seemed like the perfect place to grow his business. ‘Las Cruces is a very unpretentious place. What you see is what you get. The people are friendly. There is a lot of diversity here, but people don't call it diversity, they call it just getting along,’ said Ebert.
“Ebert took the risk and opened Zeffiro Pizzeria Napoletana in the heat of the recession. ‘We thought we'd have 30 to 40 customers, our first day we had 150 customers. We had waiting lines out the door. We were totally unprepared for it quite honestly,’ said Ebert” (

As Ebert explains, “I…fell in love with bread when traveling in France and Italy—so much so that in 1991 I quit my Law practice and attended the International Baking & Pastry Institute at Johnson and Wales University, graduating in 1993 with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts.
My real education had just begun—in 1993 I opened Zeppole Baking Co. in Boise, Idaho—over the next 13 years I honed my skills as a baker, producing countless loaves of crusty Artisan bread. The bakery grew and prospered to the point that I was spending more time as a manager than as a baker, leading to my decision in 2006 to sell the bakery and search for a community to start a small ‘hands on’ bakery once again.

“I also developed a strong interest and passion for traditional Naples style pizza. Real Naples style pizza crust requires the same attention to detail and craftsmanship as artisan breads, so it seemed natural to combine an artisan bread bakery in conjunction with a traditional pizzeria. Thus, the decision to launch the Popular Artisan Bread Bakery and Zeffiro Pizzeria Napoletana.

The name selected by a business should reflect the philosophy and underlying commitment of the business. We chose the name ‘Zeffiro’ for the pizzeria based upon one of its meanings in Italian—‘something of fine value’ to reflect our commitment to serving the finest Neopolitan style pizza possible” (
And given his background as a bread baker, Ebert is passionate about his pizza dough. “Pizza dough is the most overlooked item in modern pizza preparation, often viewed as a mere base for toppings. In many chain pizzerias the dough is purchased from a factory in frozen dough balls containing a wide variety of chemical additives, dough conditioners, preservatives, enricheners, etc.

At Zeffiro we bring the same care to our pizza dough that we do to our Artisan Breads. Our dough is made from only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough receives a lengthy fermentation over 24 hours giving a flavor and complexity of texture that is impossible to achieve with modern day shortcuts. Our dough is made daily and is never frozen—as a result, some days we may simply run out of dough…” (
We arrived at about 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, one hour before the restaurant would be closing to reopen at 5:00 p.m. Our server later told us that this hiatus allowed the staff to freshly prep what was needed for the evening service so that all customers would be assured of receiving only the freshest of product. The restaurant was nearly full, but we still could have taken a table on the wrap-around open air porch (the temp was in the mid-70’s with almost no humidity). Instead, we opted to sit inside where we could observe the action. And lucky for us, we were seated right next to the open kitchen and could watch all of the action.
As soon as we were seated, we were presented with a basket of Gary Ebert’s ciabatta along with a small plate of finely chopped fresh garlic.
Using the dispenser on each table, you pour some excellent olive oil over the garlic, and if you want an additional kick, add some hot pepper flakes to the mix. Dip the bread in the garlic oil and be transported to Tuscany. And I purchased two loaves to take home with us.

While the menu includes salads, pastas, and sandwiches, the primary focus is on the pizza. And the menu offers a number of intriguing choices: the Rustica with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh mushrooms, sliced black olives, and fresh rosemary; the Pesto Bianco with basil pesto, mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano cheese, and garlic; Lemon/Asparagus with olive oil, garlic, mozzarella cheese, paper-thin sliced fresh lemons, fresh asparagus spears and red onions with prosciutto and pecorino Romano cheese added after baking; Potato Rosemary with thin sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh rosemary, feta cheese, prosciutto, olive oil, and garlic; and more.
But we stayed true to our pizza ritual. We first ordered Zeffiro’s version of the Margherita.
When the server brought this to the table, I remarked that one sign of a serious pizza maker is the addition of the basil after the pie comes out of the oven.

The crust was excellent—thin, but flavorful, like fine bread. The sauce was light and not sweet. And the pie held just the right amount of cheese.
(We decided that, with owners as serious about their pizzas as Gary and Anne Marie Ebert, we would not alter their standard, so we did not order light cheese.)

We finished the Margherita and were ready to order our second pizza. And here I should note that not all pizzerias are so accommodating. They want you to order and get out. They need to turn those tables so want to speed you on your way. Anyway, we debated between another Margherita with the addition of Italian sausage or the Prosciutto (tomato Sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, and prosciutto) and finally went with the latter.
I was initially surprised to see that the prosciutto had been fired with the pizza and was concerned that the meat would be overly dry and tough. But the short cooking time prevented that from being a problem and the baking intensified the flavor and saltiness of the meat.

What a surprise Zeffiro’s proved to be. My advice to the Ebert’s—open a pizzeria in Albuquerque, where there is a desperate need.

And our rating—5.0 Addies, of course.

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


eyad ammar said...

شركة تنظيف بالطائف شركة الهدي افضل شركة نقل عفش بالطائف كذلك هى افضل شركة رش مبيدات بالطائف
شركه الهدى
شركة رش بالطائف
خدمات الطائف
شركة تنظيف بالطائف
شركة تنظيف فلل بالطائف
نظافه عامه بالطائف
شركة تنظيف منازل بالطائف

eyad ammar said...

شركة تنظيف شقق بالطائف
نقل عفش بالطائف
بالطائف شفط بيارات
تسليك مجارى بالطائف
تنظيف خزنات بالطائف
رش مبيدات بالطائف
نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة عزل اسطح بالطائف

eyad ammar said...

ان اردت نقل عفش منزلك بالدمام ابيات الشرقية من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والقطيف والاحساء
شركة المتحدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بابها

eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك