I got multiple submissions saying that M’tucci’s Moderno is the go-to spot for a lunch break in Rio Rancho.

As you know, Italian food is my favorite. Now, I know as much Italian as Brad Pitt in that Quentin Tarantino movie, but I love Italian food. I know the name of the movie, but it has a bad word in it, so Bonjourno!

I have never been a fan of lunch, though, and it’s actually my least favorite meal. My favorite meals in order are breakfast, dinner, brunch and then, at the very bottom, is lunch.

I’m not sure why I dislike lunch so much. Could it be because lunch is always eaten during the middle of a work day? Could it be because my mother never packed me Doritos and Twinkies like Raul’s mom?

It’s time to give lunch a whole new meaning, so I hopped in my Honda Civic and ventured to M’tucci’s Moderno to indulge further into Italian cuisine.

M’tucci’s Moderno is very spacious. They have a dining area, a bar area, a patio and a second floor. They also have some wonderful employees, amazing service and, if you have a short lunch break, then they will have your food out quickly to accommodate your work schedule … just inform your server

I sat in the bar area and was delighted to receive water with a cucumber slice in it. Ever since I watched the movie “The Other Guys” starring Mark Walberg and Will Ferrell, I have loved water with a cucumber slice. Simply put, the cucumber does something to the water, and makes it a million times more refreshing. In the words of Will Ferrell, “The cucumber accents the water in such a way.”

I digress. No more movie references, I promise. I decided to order their 30-minute lunch, which comes with a choice of soup or salad, any lunch sandwich or entree, and one lemon ricotta cookie.

I ordered New England clam chowder, a chicken parmesan sandwich with a pasta salad as my side, and I ordered an Italian cheesecake because I never pass up cheesecake.

The New England clam chowder came with baby clams, cream, golden potatoes, garlic and thyme. It was a hearty soup that was rich in flavor and creamy. I have never had clam chowder before, but things are going to change for me! That thing was a work of art and tasted like paradise.

Next, I headed for the pasta salad, which had penne pasta, Italian greens, marinated tomatoes and M’tucci’s vinaigrette. It was fresh, simple and gone in a flash.

Now, it was time for the chicken parmesan sandwich, which came with crispy chicken breasts, mozzarella cheese, spicy marinara, fresh tomato slices on a Ciabatta roll.

This chicken parmesan sandwich symbolized everything that I love about Italian food: great quality of ingredients, tons of flavor, and made with love and care. The chicken was crispy and juicy, the bread was toasty, and the sauce was exquisite.

Finally, I tried their lemon ricotta cookie, and it was airy, had a tangy lemon icing, and was deliciously sweet! I also ordered the Italian cheesecake, which came with house graham cracker crust, strawberry shrub and ginger jam, and mint shortbread cookies decorated on top. I know exactly what you are thinking: What makes the cheesecake Italian? Instead of cream cheese, they use ricotta cheese. It was rich, creamy and less cloying than usual cheesecake.

This was an amazing meal and the perfect way to make me forget that the Chiefs somehow made it to the Super Bowl again. George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey … please beat the Chiefs!

If you would like to contact M’tucci’s Moderno,  1908 Wellspring Ave. SE, call 505-891-2432 or visit their website. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Weekend hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Where should I go next? Email me [email protected]