Il Vicino

Il Vicino melds the heart of Albuquerque with the soul of Italy, serving up wood-fired wonders and home-brewed delights in a setting that's as much about community as it is about culinary excellence. (Montgomery and Juan Tabo location in the photo. Images courtesy of AIartA App)


Mark Stensland

4 min read

"Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza: Where Albuquerque Meets Old-World Charm"

Imagine a slice of the Italian Riviera right here in Albuquerque—Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza has been crafting this dream for three decades. With seven spots dotting the landscape across Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico, this establishment is a local legend, whisking you off to Italy with every bite, yet keeping your wallet firmly anchored in the Land of Enchantment.

Chef Tom White, a founding partner with a palate fine-tuned by Italian sabbaticals, ensures that whether you're biting into the pepperoni-laden Salsiccia or the decadently creamy Tartufo, you're getting authenticity without the airfare. And it's not just pizza that's got the town talking; their home-brewed root beer began in the Nob Hill basement and bubbled up into the canteen brewing scene, becoming a hometown hero in its own right.

Ben Hensley, the manager on the west side, can't help but reminisce about the root beer's humble beginnings and its journey to local superstardom. And let's not forget the fiery love affair Albuquerque has with Il Vicino's New Mexican red chile oil—it's a relationship that's been spicing up dining tables for years.

Step inside Il Vicino, and you're stepping into a slice of Portofino, with an ambiance that wraps around you like a warm Italian hug. But what truly sets Il Vicino apart is its heart for community, always ready to rally the neighborhood for a good cause.

For me, Mark Stensland, it's not just about the food—though their red chile oil could start a flavor revolution—it's about the memories. From the tiramisu that ends every meal on a sweet note to the cavatappi con carne that comforts like a best friend, Il Vicino isn't just a restaurant; it's a piece of my Albuquerque childhood, served up with a side of balsamic onions and a trio of pizzas that are nothing short of divine.

Transform Your Pizza Box into a Food Dehydrator (AKA: Pizza Flakes Maker)

Why throw away produce when…

Every year, Americans waste about 30-40% of their food supply, which then contributes to the 8% of global greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Let's save the planet one slice at a time and turn that old pizza box into a DIY food dehydrator! This hilariously easy project will transform your leftovers into delicious dried snacks.


- 1 large pizza box (clean, without grease – yes, that means ordering another pizza)

- Aluminum foil (to make it shiny like your future)

- Plastic wrap (because who doesn't love plastic?)

- Black construction paper (very goth, very functional)

- A utility knife or scissors (sharp objects: handle with care!)

- Tape (the universal fixer of all things)

- A small fan (optional, if you want to go high-tech)

- Wooden dowels or skewers (also optional, but let’s get fancy)

- Mesh or cheesecloth (to keep it all in place)


1. Prepare the Pizza Box:

Open that pizza box and line the inside with aluminum foil, shiny side up. This will reflect heat and make your box look like a science experiment. Cover the bottom of the box with black construction paper. This will absorb heat and add to the mystery.

2. Create a Window:

On the top of the pizza box lid, cut out a rectangular window, leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges. Make it artsy. Cover the window with plastic wrap and secure it with tape. This will allow sunlight in and create a greenhouse effect. Now your pizza box is officially smarter than your last smartphone.

3. Create Air Vents:

Cut small air vents on the sides of the pizza box to allow for airflow. You can make these by cutting small flaps and folding them back slightly. These vents are like your dehydrator’s nostrils.

4. Optional: Add a Fan:

If you have a small fan, place it near the air vents to enhance airflow. This will help to speed up the drying process and make you feel like an engineering genius.

5. Create Racks:

If you have wooden dowels or skewers, create racks to hold your food. Simply poke holes in the sides of the box and insert the dowels through the holes, creating a grid. Now it’s looking like a mini barbecue. Alternatively, use a piece of mesh or cheesecloth to lay your food on inside the box. It’s like a hammock for your snacks.

6. Place Your Food:

Arrange your food items on the racks or mesh, ensuring they are spread out evenly and not touching each other. Give them space to breathe – it’s yoga for your veggies.

7. Position Your Dehydrator:

Place the pizza box dehydrator in a sunny spot outside. The plastic wrap window should be facing the sun to maximize heat absorption. Your neighbors will be jealous of your eco-friendly contraption.

8. Monitor and Rotate:

Check on your food periodically and rotate the box if necessary to ensure even drying. You’re basically a helicopter parent for dehydrated snacks. Depending on the weather and the type of food, drying times can vary from several hours to a couple of days. Patience, grasshopper.

Dehydrating Specific Foods:

Red and Green Chiles:

Preparation: Wash and dry the chiles. Slice them into rings or halves, removing seeds if desired. Fun fact: Spicy foods can increase your metabolism by up to 8%! Drying Time: Chiles typically take 1-2 days to dry completely. They should be brittle and break easily when fully dehydrated.


Preparation: Wash and dry the tomatoes. Slice them into ¼ inch thick slices or cut cherry tomatoes in half. Did you know tomatoes are technically a fruit? Mind blown. Drying Time: Tomatoes can take 1-3 days to dry. They should be leathery and pliable when done.

Popular Herbs (e.g., Basil, Oregano, Thyme):

Preparation: Rinse herbs and pat dry. Remove leaves from stems if they are large. Herbs can improve memory by up to 75%. Okay, I made that up, but it sounds good! Drying Time: Herbs generally dry within 1 day. They should crumble easily when touched.

9. Enjoy Your Dehydrated Food:

Once your food is sufficiently dried, remove it from the dehydrator and store it in an airtight container. Congrats! You’ve just saved the planet one dehydrated snack at a time.

This DIY food dehydrator is an easy and cost-effective way to preserve your favorite foods using just a few household items. Happy drying, and remember, every little bit helps in the fight against climate change!