Saturday, November 16, 2013

da Vinci's Pizza

Here's another review written by my boyfriend. 

 da Vinci's Pizza: Down from the Heights with upside potential

We first visited da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza back in July 2013.  At that time, it was tucked away in a quiet northeast Albuquerque strip mall on Juan Tabo.  


The restaurant could be easily missed by a casual passerby, save for the unmistakable aroma of freshly baked pizza wafting into the summer evening air.  We were, however, not here on a flight of whimsy.  Our quest to patronize Albuquerque pizzerias in alphabetical order continues: da Vinci's was next on the list.

Two wall posters with references to the restaurant's namesake Italian inventor hung near the front counter.  The small, cozy dining area provided customers with an enticing alternative to take-out. 


We ordered an extra-large pepperoni and pineapple and sat down at a table in the otherwise empty dining area.  As we waited, a steady flow of pick-up customers came in to collect their neatly boxed evening dinners.


We struck up an easy conversation with John, the store's owner.  He told us that he had been in the pizza business since a teenager and had learned the ropes on his way up.  Consistency was his keyword: make quality pizza, the same way, every day, and you will earn the loyalty of customers.  And their repeat business.  The big news was that he was opening a second da Vinci's pizzeria in the fall.  This one was going to be located at the corner of Indian School and Girard, next door to his brother's graphic arts business.  He was working on the paperwork to sell local micro-brew and perhaps more at the new place.

Our pizza was very good, but probably not of "gourmet" caliber.  At least not for pizza snobs like us.  Gourmet pizza is what you'll get at places like BJ's, Boston, or California Pizza Kitchen.  There are surely more high-end eateries in town, but we'll get to them later in the alphabet.  Our da Vinci's pizza experience was excellent and reasonably priced.

We decided to postpone the da Vinci blog entry until after the second restaurant opened, which happened in early November. Throughout the summer of 2013, we watched the shell of what was once an auto repair garage slowly morph into a pizza parlour.  We couldn't help but think that this would be a stellar location, with a huge supply of hungry UNM students just steps away in off-campus apartments.  da Vinci's nearest competitors are located about a mile south on Central.  These places are far enough away that they might dissuade the impulse buy, which likely accounts for the vast majority of sales.  Convenience, speed, and a tasty product are going to motivate the typical pizza customer. If da Vinci's can do a respectable job with this, they should have plenty of business.

Upon our arrival, we learned that the first shop had completely shut down just days prior to the grand opening.  The entire operation had moved to the new facility, including the Leonardo-themed wall posters.  That means there is still just one da Vinci's in Albuquerque. 

The word "gourmet" is no longer found anywhere on the menu, although it is still seen on their website (, which also lists the old location.  Far more noteworthy are their $12 Tuesday pizza specials.

We ordered a 14 inch pepperoni and waited in the restaurant.  It was a Saturday afternoon and it looked like business was booming.  Our server had worked at the original location and confirmed that the Indian School address was generating more customer traffic.  From our corner table, we could see the Albuquerque Tennis Club across the street along with lots and lots of apartment buildings.


  The pizza was the same as we remembered, so the desired consistency was indeed maintained with the move down from the Northeast Heights.  We think the new da Vinci's has nowhere to go but up. 

 Da Vinci's Gourmet Pizza on Urbanspoon

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