Nicole “Nicky” Villareal and her husband Greg had no intentions of opening up a restaurant in May of 2010.
With a background in contracting, Nicole and Greg have had involvement in a number of restaurant design and construction projects through the years. Having received a call to meet with a landlord at a vacant restaurant on Coors Blvd., the team was under the impression they would be bidding on a tenant improvement or other construction related project. To their surprise, upon arrival, the landlord was pitching the space for lease. Long story short, 4 months later, the concept of Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria came to be.
Having had the opportunity to travel Europe extensively years ago, Nicole and Greg were intrigued by the differences that exist between the eateries on the East side of the Atlantic and the eateries here in the United States. Restaurants in Europe are typically smaller, with substantially greater focus placed on the quality of the ingredients along with a higher level of customer service. More of a “neighborly” feeling than what one experiences here in the land of corporate restaurant models. The differences were most apparent upon visiting Pizzeria Charlie in Orvieto, Italy. Pizzeria Charlie, a little neighborhood pizzeria, in the hill country of Umbria focuses on the “craft” of pizza making. Fresh mozzarella di buffala, local basil and extra virgin olive oil, san marzano tomatoes, and house made dough come together to make the best Pizza Margherita the couple had ever tasted. So simple, yet with emphasis placed on the quality of the ingredients, perfection achieved.
Nicole and Greg have tried to incorporate these values into the Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria concept. Specifically, utilizing the highest quality ingredients available, purchasing local, organic vegetables and herbs when possible, signature dough made in house, and dishing up the resultant fare in a customer centric manner. It seems that Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria is being well received by the community with a number of positive reviews in print and on line, most notably a 3 ½ star review in the Albuquerque Journal.
Additional accolades include "Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, 2012", “Best New Restaurant, 2010” by Albuquerque the Magazine and "Best Small Business, 2011" by the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. As an individual Nicole "Nicky V" Villareal has been recognized as the "Pioneer Entrepeneur of the Year, 2008" by PNM, selected as a participant in Leadership Albuquerque 2012, a program which provides mid to senior level business professionals a forum to hone their skills and to assess their own leadership strengths and opportunities for development, and most recently has been recognized as a 2012 "40 Under Forty" honoree by New Mexico Business Weekly.