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Money mag ranks ABQ pizza joint best in NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Money magazine has named Straight Up Pizza in Albuquerque as the best place for a pie in New Mexico.

The magazine partnered with Yelp to find the best pizza joint in every state. All the eateries featured on its list are in the “pizza” category on Yelp and are measured using an algorithm that looks at the number of reviews and star rating for each business.

“That’s awesome and great,” said Randy O’Canna, Straight Up’s general manager, who was pleasantly surprised when the Journal contacted him about the ranking. “We knew we had a pretty strong following on social media.”

The business is a family-run affair that includes his identical twin brother, Travis, and their father, Gary.

O’Canna said the shop, at 2801 Eubank NE, Suite G, serves traditional New York-style pizza but with a New Mexico twist. It has the characteristically large hand-tossed thin crust. Add fresh sauces, some of which are pretty fiery, the “best cheese” and other ingredients, and you can have a highly rated pizzeria, too.

He said Straight Up’s spicier versions are popular with chile-loving locals. One of the faves is a pie called the Chupacabra. It features pepperoni, meatballs, hot green chile, fire-roasted red peppers and hot marinara sauce.

The eatery is open every day but Monday. The pies are carry-out only, or you can have them delivered.

Straight Up Pizza can be reached at 796-9343.

Mangia! Mangia!

Albuquerque’s Restaurant Row has a newly opened Italian bistro helmed by a consulting chef who’s an alumnus of Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” TV program.

Gigi Italian Bistro is at 4959 Pan American NE, in the site formerly occupied by the Nanami Noodle House, which merged with Plum Cafe next door. “Gigi,” which is Bronx slang for great-grandmother, launched in late August, said owner John Costick, who also operates Thai Cafe in Santa Fe.

The new eatery is clearly a change of pace for Costick, who hired Big Apple native Robert Hesse to help launch the enterprise, create a menu and teach the cooking crew how to make classic spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, minestrone and pizza.

Hesse also appeared on several seasons of the popular Food Network TV program, which inspired the phrase “Yes, Chef!” The new business is open for lunch and dinner.

Speaking of pizza …

It looks like a Domino’s restaurant is the incoming tenant in the business space formerly occupied by Tomato Cafe at 5920 Holly NE. Construction work is underway at the site, but no other details are available as to when the franchise-owned pizzeria will open the eatery. Meantime, Tomato Cafe, which lost its lease at the Holly site, will relocate to new digs at 7900 San Pedro NE. An opening date is pending.

Blake’s on the pueblo

The new Blake’s Lotaburger is in a retail center owned by the Santa Ana Pueblo’s economic development organization. (Courtesy of Blake’s Lotaburger)

Blake’s Lotaburger, the iconic New Mexico-based hamburger chain that has grown to 76 locations throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, has opened its newest store at 1304 Warrior Way on Santa Ana Pueblo. The new business is a collaboration with Southern Sandoval Investments.

Famous for its green chile cheeseburgers, breakfast burritos, chili dogs, Frito pies, milk shakes and more, the new location features the chain’s recently updated “look” while still retaining the strong New Mexico feel and service that have characterized its 66 years in business.

“The Pueblo of Santa Ana is pleased that Blake’s Lotaburger has teamed with Southern Sandoval Investments, the pueblo’s economic development group, to further enhance our development called Wind Ridge @ Tamaya,” pueblo Gov. Glen Tenorio said in a statement.

“This partnership will create conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life for the southern Sandoval County area. We welcome Blake’s, and look forward to a long-term relationship.”

Lucy Rosen, a spokeswoman for Blake’s Lotaburger, said, “We’re excited to be opening this new location in Santa Ana, which is designed to incorporate and highlight the beauty and unique qualities of the distinctive pueblo look.”

The new business has 48 employees, some of whom relocated from Blake’s nearby Bernalillo store, which has closed.

Please send me morsels of retail and restraurant news by email at or phone at 823-3919.

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