Los King Pizza in Tomé delivers food where others don’t

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Like your pizza Chicago-style? New York-style? New Mexico-style? Thin crust? Medium crust? Thick crust?

 

 

Dana Bowley-News-Bulletin photo: Jason Turner checks on the status of a king pizza at Los King Pizza at 2813 N.M. 47 in Tomé. Turner’s pizza oven, which is considerably older than he is, dates to 1957. He estimates it has baked at least 300,000 pizzas in its lifetime.

No problem, says Jason Turner, co-owner of Los King Pizza in Tomé.

“I can make it any style,” he said. “I can make a custom pizza to the customer’s specs. I’ve got one customer who likes the crust not quite cooked all the way. I’ve got another who likes the crust practically burned.

“I make each pizza individually as it’s ordered, so making it how the customer wants it is no big deal.”

How Turner ended up running a pizza joint out of a former convenience store on N.M. 47 is the story of a lot of circumstances coming together.

A native of Washington state, the 39-year-old Turner grew up there and in Alaska, where at one time he worked on a fishing boat. He moved around, spending seven years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and another 11 in the telecom industry.

He moved to Valencia County about eight years ago as the closest place his wife, Guillermina, could be to her family and where he could find work. Then last year, the work thing changed and he decided to take the leap into business for himself.

“I was out of work and I needed to support my family,” said Turner, who lives in Las Maravillas. “I got the opportunity to buy a 1957 pizza oven.”

Actually, that opportunity came from his wife’s parents, who are long-time owners of a pizza parlor in Juarez, Mexico. They owned the oven, and Turner had some experience with them.

“Getting the oven across the border was a trip,” he said. “Then it looked like I was going to have to retrofit it because it didn’t meet code.”

As it turned out, the oven met all requirements for an appliance of its age, but Turner decided to retrofit it anyway for safety.

The location he chose wasn’t accidental.

“None of the pizza places in Los Lunas or Belen deliver out here to Las Maravillas, El Cerro Mission, Meadow Lake, Tomé Vista,” he said. “This place puts me within a few minutes of all of them, so I can fill a need out here. I’m the only one who delivers on the east side. Rio Communities, too.”

He and his wife opened Los King Pizza on Sept. 1, and, yes, he’s aware of the name’s oddity and grammatical problem.

“I wanted to incorporate Los Lunas,” Turner said, “and I wanted something to remind people that I had a king-size pizza. That’s how the name came about.”

Turner said the king pizza, an idea he borrowed from his in-laws, is one thing that sets his place apart from others, and that’s why he wanted the reminder in the name. The pizza is a 24-inch by 16-inch rectangle that produces 24, 4-inch square pieces. It’s designed for parties and large families.

Also setting his pizza apart, he said, are the marinara sauce — his in-laws’ secret recipe — and the crust, his own secret recipe developed over time. His preference is a medium thick crust.

“I work really hard on my crust recipe,” Turner said. It is also used in his homemade bread sticks.

And each pizza is handmade at the time of the order.

“We don’t make set-ups or anything like that in advance,” he said. “It’s all done on the spot and in the customer’s view.”

He’ll even toss the dough in the air and spin it if there are kids looking on.

In addition to the king pizza, Turner offers four other sizes — personal, medium, large and queen. Los King Pizza also offers bread sticks, cheese sticks and hot wings on its menu.

“I’d like to expand the menu,” he said, “but I do everything myself and I just can’t add anything else right now.”

One thing that caught him off-guard, he said, was how many people want chile on their pizza.

“Everybody wants chile,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that. You wouldn’t believe how much chile I go through.”

Turner believes his gamble is paying off.

“I’m getting great word-of-mouth,” he said. “I had a lady from Sicily say it’s the best pizza she’s ever had. And some New Yorkers told me the same thing.

“I’ve already got a lot of regulars, I’ve been doing a lot of parties and I do a lot of deliveries to the college (UNM-VC). So I’m pretty encouraged about the way it’s going.”

Los King Pizza is at 2813 N.M. 47, just north of Marquez Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 864-8251, which Turner said the phone company told him was the number of a former pizza place in the Belen area. He said he occasionally gets calls for the other place.

 


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