I was down with the cruelest of conditions—the dreaded summer cold—when I mustered enough energy to get in my car and wobble down to Pizza 9 (1965 Cerrillos Road, 982-8989). DayQuil be damned! I’d pulled out the big guns—Mexican medical oddities—and needed some sustenance to soak up the pseudo-pseudoephedrine.
A window sign boasting “Chicago style pizza” called out my name and, in a runny nosed haze, I pulled up to the unassuming pizza parlor. More Pilsen than Miracle Mile, the restaurant on the corner of Cerrillos and St. Mike’s at the old Little House of Chinese Cuisine location, serves up fine middle-of-the-road eats. The inside is flecked with photomurals depicting the Windy City hung from its canary-yellow walls. Power ballads flooded the sound system as busy delivery boys made their way in and out.
I opted for the “all meat” pizza ($13.99 for a medium; $4 extra for gluten-free) and some spaghetti with meatballs with a side of garlic bread for a cool $7.99.
Eyelids getting heavier by the second, as if taunted by destiny and adhering to cruel industry norm, my order took exactly 30 minutes to come up. Around minute 26, Live’s “Lightning Crashes” came on. Maybe it was the Mexi meds, but for the first time I paid attention to the lyrics. Shit’s deep.
I take my doughy loot and head home like a disoriented banshee. The pizza—a juicy calamity of pepperoni, sausage, ham and meatballs wasn’t quite deep dish, but still was better than the HOT-N-READY option down the street and got the job done. The sketti was downright unremarkable and bland. Imagine thin strands of cardboard around a pool of marinara. Just like mama never used-a to make-a!
Still, I blamed the pills for the less-than-stellar experience and recently went back for more. Determined to give the place the ol’ Harvard try, my date and I went whole hog and ordered some bread nuggets ($3.99), a green chile and chicken pizza ($8.99 for a nine incher), a side or ravioli ($6.99) and a meatball calzone ($9.99), because why not?
We were told by the friendly attendant behind the register that the soda machine was “out of gas,” so she suggested giving us a deal on a 2-liter pop. Umm…sold!
Like a regular pair of Rockefellers, we chowed down on the nuggets—sort of like a garlicky pizza but without any toppings, and filled up cups of the jumbo three-buck Sierra Mist in eager expectation.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Hasan A Aslami, who got his pizza wings in Chicago during the ’80s, the Albuquerque-heavy chain has been serving the Parmesan-sprinkled stuff in New Mexico since 2008. On the up and up, the local resto just unveiled a new 62-person capacity dining room and they’ve recently announced plans for a second Santa Fe location on their website.
With a shorter waiting time than my original visit, the chow starts to arrive at our table. Perhaps it was an optical illusion, but the compact pizza was almost deep enough to pass for a Second City knockoff. The pasta this time around was decent, and the mozzarella-heavy calzone was enough to feed a small Esercito Italiano. Turns out life is beautiful after all.
Hearty, filling, meat-sweat-inducing and providing a good amount of leftovers, the follow-up visit was just what the doctor ordered.