Southwest Edition: Farina’s (and gokarting)

The doc and his girlfriend came down to New Mexico this weekend to visit me. Among the many things we did (seeing the Exorcist live in an amazing, very New-Mexicany theater, tons of gokarting, Breaking Bad tours, etc.), one of the more important was getting to taste the most delicious pizza in the entire Mountain Time Zone.

I have long been a fan of Farina’s,  and I had a flush of local pride, when the owner, Scott, told me that Farina’s was recently listed in Time Out New York’s best pizza restaurants in America.  With the exception of New Haven (which has been doing pizza forever), Farina’s is the only pizzeria on this list located in a small town. The list is obviously heavily NY influenced (and I would disagree with the two Chicago choices), but it is amazing that little old Albuquerque represented!

So what is it about Farina’s that makes it so amazing? Woodfirey salty crust is just the beginning. The crust is always just a little burnt, but in a good way. And it is very salty. Like you’re going to need more than your average amount of water (or in my case, Sprite, or actually Blue Sky, which is nowhere near as bad as some “natural sodas.”) But before we even get to the pizza, we should discuss some other important things.

Mainly, gokarting.

Now anybody who knows me, knows that I have a competitive spirit. I imagine the doc does too, but this extends way back to early musical memories and how many books I could read vs. my sister, etc. etc. Strangely enough, it didn’t kick in academically until college. I was a pretty lackluster student in middle school, and really did not give a cacca in high school. But since college was fun (what do you mean I can take a class on Greek Mythology?!), it fueled my competitive spirit. Same with pretty much anything that I do that is enjoyable.

Note: this is why I do not gamble. Or drink.

But Gokarts are a pretty safe way to indulge in this part of my personality. The lovely people over at Albuquerque Indoor Karting are happy to continue taking my money as I shave off literally tenths of a second on my best time, to beat people like “Princess Peach,” “Whisky Tango Foxtrot,” and “Jewish Guy.” (My gokarting name is simply “Mr. Fring.” Subtle, I know). Ever since I discovered Abq indoor karting, I’ve gone whenever I’m in the city for an extended period of time. To date I’ve done about 50 races. After 10 races you graduate from the slow cars to the faster cars. The difference is enormous. It’s like that Seinfeld episode about travelling first class on an airplane. I can never go back.

And I love making new converts to karting. The doc shares my childish love of childish things (the amount that man knows about the lives and fates of pro-wrestlers is astonishing. In fact, I could write a whole post about that, as I’m sure he could too), but I suspect he hadn’t really ever done real karting until he was in the 505. We all signed up to race,  his gf dropped out after the first race, but he was instantly hooked. He had that look in his eyes like “yes, I have found this thing. I want to do it again, and again, and again, and again.” So in addition to having a platonic pizza life partner, I think I now also have a gokarting life partner.

Like I said, he was in the slow car, so, it goes without saying that I wiped the floor with the competition.

don't hate me because I'm the fastest.

don’t hate me because I’m the fastest.

I am now down to about 24.8 seconds per lap. The best time that week was by a girl named “Blue Angel” who was at 24.01 seconds. Now, as with all competitive sports, the difference is in the consistency. half a second seems like nothing, right? Like maybe I could just get lucky once and get to that 24.01 second and tie her, right? The thing is, this is maddeningly consistent. The people who get in the lower 24 seconds always get in the lower 24 seconds. If there is a fluke, it was my single showing of 24.6 seconds.

This whole karting thing occupied such an enormous amount of my brain power and energy that day, that by the time we were done, I had worked up an enormous appetite, and then we did something. What did we do? I can’t remember now…

Oh right! We had pizza! Duh.

Back to Farina’s! This place is usually pretty packed on a Saturday night, but it was Halloween, and all the kids were apparently other places. Which was great for us, because we didn’t have to wait for a table.

We had some starters. I can’t remember what the doc and his girlfriend had, but I know that I had an assortment of roasted Italian olives. OMG! these are so good. I had been to the restaurant just a couple days ago with my parents, and they ordered them, and my mind was blown.

I also ordered the insalata verde which came with gorgonzola cheese, nuts, and various other goodies.

For the actual pizzas (the doc took pics), I had what I always have, the carne, which contains pepperoni, prosciutto di parma, and salame. The doc had something with vegetables.

Now, as I was saying before, the crust is what really makes it. Not unlike Spacca Napoli in Chicago, Farina prides itself on being authentic Neapolitan (or as the doc’s girlfriend called it “Napoleon”) style pizza. And outside of Chicago, this is the most authentic Neapolitan pizza I’ve ever had. The sauce is absolutely to die for. I do not know what is in it, but I know that it makes everything tingle. It is a little on the spicy side, and for those of you who really dig New Mexican cuisine, you can get green chilies on it (to be fair, in New Mexico, you can get green chilies on a Big Mac at McDonald’s. No joke).

I’m not generally a big fan of ham on pizza, but there is a world of difference between ham and prosciutto di Parma. You can get really good prosciutto di Parma at any whole foods if you’re willing to give a pint of blood and naming rights to your first born child. Other than that, you’re pretty out of luck. Although I am seeing more and more local Italian grocers in places you wouldn’t even think they would exist (like Dallas, TX, for example). I’m not sure where Farina’s gets their prosciutto, but it resembles ham about as much as the Albuquerque Great Pumpkin Chase resembles gokarting (ask the doc).

We ate like pigs, and we loved it. My pants were extremely tight after, and I did not care. In fact, we were so stuffed that we decided to head over to Flying Star for dessert.

After the sugar rush wore off, I have to say, I haven’t slept that well in years. YEARS!

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