ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Aside from the name Joe’s Pasta House, which lacks a certain elan, everything about this Italian dining spot in Rio Rancho is perfect for a date. Intimate tables, detailed European frescoes, an extensive wine menu, perfectly portioned meals and a corner fireplace all make this one of the most romantic spots in town.
It’s also consistently ranked among the top Italian restaurants in the Albuquerque area by local diners.
From the outside, Joe’s is standard fare, but once inside, guests are treated to a scene straight out of a classic Italian eatery – authentic Mediterranean groceries line the walls of the entrance, a small but bustling bar features housemade sangria, and an open kitchen behind that offers a peek into the creation of the cuisine.
The cuisine is as good as it gets. After a phenomenal glass of draft Marble Indian Pale Ale (and then another), my dining companion and I ordered the 8-ounce petite filet and the Surf & Turf, respectively. In true Italian fashion, the meal starts with a complimentary plate of fresh bread with two garnishes. One is a traditional extra-virgin olive oil dip with sprinkled herbs and fresh-ground pepper, and the other is an absolutely delicious but small serving of Joe’s house bruschetta: Tender tomatoes mixed with fresh onions and garlic, then a hint of sweet basil, combine to make an almost salsa-like topping. My dining companion loved it.