Once inside, however, there’s an intimate bar and multiple rooms full of well-spaced tables. The outdoor courtyard is one of the more relaxing and friendly courtyards in town.
Lino Pertusini—aka the Italian dude who fusses endlessly in the service of good dining experiences at his flagship Italian restaurant, Osteria d’Assisi—has brought his native country’s expertise to bear on his new project: a classic-ish wood-fired pizza operation. Pertusini was reportedly sick of pretenders giving Italian pies a bad name, so he decided to rectify the situation immediatamente.
Has he succeeded? Mostly.
Osteria has an appropriately excellent wine list, and that practice has carried over to Pizzeria da Lino. The selection of pizze is traditional Italian with the occasional twist. There is a respectable selection of primi dishes (although the carpaccio di bue listed on the website, pizzeriadalino.com, was nowhere to be found when I visited), a few straightforward pasta dishes and the somewhat obligatory calzone.
A funghi e tartufi pizza was the best among those I sampled. A medley of mozzarella, taleggio and gorgonzola was used with restraint. The cheeses provided rich, almost fruity flavor, an appetite-boosting aroma and a silky texture without overpowering the delicate crust. Another pizza based on the same cheese combination was topped with caramelized pears, sweet onions and chopped hazelnuts. It was also masterfully balanced in terms of flavors: The spice of the nuts against the sweet pear created a high note that was elongated by the onion.
Both crusts, however, longed for a few more seconds in the large wood-fired oven. If the crust doesn’t blister with the heat and suck the smoke of the wood through its cratered pores, what’s the point of wood firing? Like a good flour tortilla, a wood-fired pizza needs some real char to reach its flavor potential.
I had a perfect crust on my piadina, however, which is weird. A piadina is usually a stuffed flat bread (on its menu, Pizzeria da Lino offers it with a “rosemary focaccia”) but mine arrived in the form of a pizza topped with arugula, tomato, mozzarella and prosciutto. No real complaint, though—the crust was appropriately war-torn and the toppings made for a light, easy dish with none of the debilitating force associated with American pizza styles.
The Toscana was a straightforward tomato sauce pizza with a smattering of mozzarella, and a captivating blend of spicy Italian sausage and salami. Again, a few more seconds on the crust would have transformed it from a very good pizza to a moment of pure food eroticism.
But there’s no cause for concern here—the surprisingly crusted piadina demonstrated that the heat is in the oven, the flavor is in the wood and the bakers can turn and time the crust well. Santa Fe diners know that Pertusini is a perfectionist, and the crusts will be held to a high standard.
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