Newsflash: There is no shortage of pizza joints in Santa Fe. That being said, with so many options to salivate over, it’s hard to keep track of what’s out there. One particularly delicious blip on the radar is locally owned Pizza Etc. (556 N Guadalupe St., 986-1500). Tucked in the east entrance of the DeVargas Center, you have most likely walked right past its indoor patio-style seating or smelled doughy crust baking while you stood in line for the movies. But you probably don’t know the unique story behind this staple of Santa Fe eating.
Originally opening its doors in 1989, Pizza Etc. fell into the hands of Roland Richter in the mid-’90s. Richter, now owner of Joe’s Dining, quickly set about renovating the menu. By focusing on local produce and clean ingredients, he gave Pizza Etc. the homegrown image it still brandishes today.
When the market got tight in 2009, Richter sold Pizza Etc. to long-time manager Sergio Baray and his business partner, Oscar Rivera. This January, Pizza Etc. shifted ownership once again as Rivera sold his share in the company to new co-owner Javier Araiza.
Araiza and Baray met when they worked together at Pizza Etc. back in the day. Both of them hail from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. When asked what he thought about two immigrants becoming owners of the restaurant where they started out, Baray said, “I am very happy. My dream is almost finished.”
He’ll be paying off the final installment for the business in September.
Pizza Etc.’s menu touches on all the essential categories you’d expect from a neighborhood pizzeria: a variety of sandwiches, salads, specialty pizzas, calzones and spaghetti; in addition to a soup du jour ($3.79-$4.80) and spicy chicken wings ($7.25).
Fungus lovers should sink their teeth into the “Trifolati,” a savory pizza blending an earthy triad of portobello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms on top of a crispy crust that’ll make you melt in your chair. The crust in general deserves a note of its own. Pizza Etc.’s menu boasts that they make their own pizza dough daily, without any additives or preservatives.
Another option, which has yet to grace the printed menu, is the “Rodeo.” Combining barbecue chicken and green chile, this pizza is sure to hit the spot for anyone craving some Southwest flavor. Special pizzas range from $6.99 for a personal to $23.99 for a large.
Pizza Etc. keeps it local with a few seasonal items. For those who can still taste the ripe tomatoes plucked off the vine in Grandma’s garden, you’ll love Pizza Etc.’s caprese salad. Made with fresh in-house mozzarella and local heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, this delicacy runs $8.50 when the produce is in season.
The answer for all you gluten-haters out there is yes, Pizza Etc. recently added a 10-inch gluten-free crust for an extra $3. Sergio is waiting on some ingredients to start baking his own in-house dough. Until then he’s going with the run-of-the-mill stuff, which passed the acid test as I found myself mopping up the crumbs to get one last taste of the allergen-free substitute.
Pizza Etc. fulfills that timeless obligation of American pie parlors by delivering their cheese-covered concoctions right to your home; no need to pay out the wazoo for third party delivery or brave that freak late-spring snowstorm.
While it might seem easy to cruise to the drive-thru at Little Caesars to get your pizza fix, Pizza Etc.’s owners hope their commitment to quality ingredients catches on.
Baray ends the conversation saying he wants to remind Santa Feans to “support local businesses and not franchises.”