FOR 15 YEARS, Diné restaurateur Victoria Largo worked out of a small food trailer parked in front of her blue two-story house, in the center of Crownpoint. The Victoria’s Pizza space was just big enough to fit herself and the pizza oven. She dreamed of opening a true sit-down restaurant, even though access to capital isn’t easy to come by and retail space is nearly nonexistent—let alone available—in the small town located between I-40 and Farmington.
Residents usually buy burgers, sandwiches, and Navajo favorites like mutton stew, fry bread, and Navajo tacos at food trailers and pop-up flea markets. In fact, Largo got her start selling ice cream out of her pickup truck, delivering donuts and coffee to offices, and selling ready-made grocery-store-pizza slices at the hospital. When she discovered the pizza’s popularity, Largo began making it at home, burning out five ovens before finally graduating to the food truck. “That little trailer—it couldn’t even handle Crownpoint,” says Largo, who started receiving orders from surrounding towns like Lake Valley, Pueblo Pintado, and Tohatchi. “I had to start thinking about dine-in.”
When a For Lease sign popped up on a vacant space in Crownpoint’s Navajo Nation Shopping Center, she called the number, but was blindsided by all the questions thrown her way. Do you have a business plan? What’s your budget? Undeterred, Largo took businesses classes and worked with the management company to check off everything she needed. It wasn’t easy, but she remained motivated, thanks to her father’s encouragement. “Victoria,” she says in her father’s voice, “if you ever get on a horse and you get bucked off, you better get back on.”
In March, Largo cut the ribbon on her very own brick-and-mortar pizzeria, becoming the first Diné pizzeria owner on the Navajo Nation and the first Diné restaurateur in recent Crownpoint history. Decorated in classic pizzeria red, Victoria’s pushes out dozens of cheesy pies and slices with a crisp-yet-soft crust that’s the result of years of testing and recipe development. “I always wondered, What can I do to make the pizza taste better?” Largo says about the crust’s origins. “So I started to study.”
She researched the altitude—6,850 feet in Crownpoint—and its effect on dough recipes. She tested gluten-free, bleached, and unbleached flours and other ingredients. Eventually she landed on Blue Bird Flour, a brand that many Diné pastry makers swear by for its soft fineness.
Largo’s menu also includes salads, chicken wings, and ice cream. And she continues to experiment, recently adding a gluten-free, blue-corn-crust pizza and a sweet pizza-shaped crisp topped with ice cream. “My joy in my heart is to see a family enjoying pizza all together,” she says.