One of New Mexico's smallest Brewpubs, Il Vicino makes no attempt to attain upscale status like Albuquerque's other two brewpubs. Although located in the fashionable Nob Hill area, it is also only a few blocks walk from the University of New Mexico, the state's most expensive public post-secondary institution, excluding the State Penitentiary in Santa Fé. The aromas from the Italian foods baking in the wood-fired oven fill the one large room. A few outdoor tables stand on the sidewalk adjacent to Albuquerque's portion of Route 66 known as Central Avenue. The glass streetfront allows for plenty of sunlight inside and at night the subdued lights that hang from the high ceiling create a comfortable atmosphere. Speaking of atmosphere, smoking is allowed at the small main bar but not at the smaller bar in the rear near the pizza tossers. The university crowd has the expected contingent of nicotine addicts but the high ceiling combined with electric fans keep the air really breathable. The small wooden tables and chairs are usually full due to the reputation here for quality beer and pizza. It is commonplace to see lines out the door as patrons wait to place their orders and then be seated.
The Wet Mountain IPA is arguably the hoppiest beer in town with its dark amber color, intense hop aroma, medium body, mild malt presence and serious hop flavor and aftertaste. The Loyal Duke Scottish Ale was a deep ruby color with a malty aroma, extremely sweet malty flavor, without any alcoholic character but with a very light peated/smoky finish. The Slow Down Brown appeared a dark brown color and the current recipe offered a malty sweet flavor with subtle hops. The Rob's Red was a dark amber color and with its medium body and sweet malty flavor it was one of the few "red" beers around that actually had reasonable flavors. The McEwans Pale Ale was a copper color with a light hop flavor and hoppy flavor balance. The Joe's Stout yielded a dark creamy head with a licorice-like aroma, medium body, well-carbonated, dark malt flavor with a hint of coffee (secret ingredient), and clean dry finish. The Pigtail Blonde Ale brings up the light end of the spectrum. Still noticeably hoppy, this light-bodied brew offers a transition for those new to full-flavored craft beers. Their Nob Hill Root Beer had an intense root beer aroma and a surprisingly even-balanced flavor, due in part to the touch of chocolate malt in the recipe. The Ginger Beer is in transition, moving from extract to "all root." The guest beer is now the Pilsner from Sierra Blanca in Carizozo, New Mexico.
The fall Brewers Special was a Pumpkin Wheat, deep orange-amber in color, the aroma hinted of nutmeg and was accompanied by a full bodied hoppy/spicy flavor, well-matched to the creamy mouthfeel, it finished slightly on the sweet side. The Loyal Duke, brought in from their Salida, Colorado location, is dark brown in color with a fluffy white head and malty aroma. The flavor is both smoky and deeply malty with a creamy mouthfeel, medium body, and alcoholic way.
The operative phrase at Il Vicino is Good Food, Good Beer, and Good Atmosphere. One wall is even lined with Italian wines and bottled waters. A Cappuccino machine spurts and sputters while creating waves of intense coffee aromas that waft through the dining area. Prices are roughly $2.65 per pint and $3.20 for 24 ounces. If it wasn't for primitive city anti-alcohol zoning laws customers could enjoy a draft outside while watching the passing foot and auto traffic. A new happy hour runs Monday through Saturday from 3 to 5 PM and features unbeatable prices.
Il Vicino Pizzeria
3403 Central Ave. NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106
(505)266-7855 50/50 Su - Th 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., Fr & Sa 11:30 a.m. - Midnight CD & Satellite Menu (250k)
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - February, 1998
Back to Brewpub Reviews NM Virtual Brewpub