I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nomad Pizza

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self:  GPS is awesome

I realized today as I was leaving the house for work, that I have not seen grass since Christmas. Although I do enjoy a Winter Wonderland, I do not want a Winter Wonderland for four consecutive weeks. I found this little piece from a review of Nomad Pizza back in the summer and just reading it and looking at the pictures of hot steamy pies just warms me up, as well as crave a chewy, steamy Neapolitan pizza in this cold weather.
I had my first Neapolitan pizza when I was in Naples. I unfortunately, was not fully culinary aware at the time so I underappreciated the value and my experience of such a special pizza. One thing I did know and learn was that:

1. There was more to pizza than the Neo-Neapolitan pizza I was used to eating
2. Getting drunk in front of your parents, although good idea at the time is pretty awkward
3. Neapolitan pizza is like no other and is by far, my favorite style

Now, for those of you that are not food nerds/losers that do not read and research food constantly or in this case, read Ed Levine’s Slice of Heaven, there are many types of pizzas. Not going into a whole food history, Wikipedia-like lesson, generally the pizza that we know that comes from your local pizzeria is characterized as New York Neapolitan pizza, the step child of the original Neapolitan pizza. True Neapolitan pizza has stringent standards to be called a true Neapolitan. There are actual government, bureaucratic rules to this set by the Italian government and the city of Naples. You have got to love the Europeans, only they would set laws on food standards, better that the United States doing the whole “freedom fries”. The rules range from the construction (hand formed, 12-14 inches, 0 or 00 flour), to the ingredients (San Marzano Tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy and fresh as hell mozzarella from region around Naples like Campania or the Southern Apennine Mountians). Bascially you get the idea that this is no ordinary style of pizza but the main gist of it is the usage of the best and freshest ingredients and producing the best pie one can create.  As ridiculous as these rules may seem to you (read normal people) these standards create something unlike any other pizza. Neapolitan pizza has a texture and taste that is unlike anything I have ever eaten.

The pizza had a light char and a perfectly raised crust and overall outer layer of crisp that shelters a soft, chewy inside. The fresh cheese has some pull and light saltiness that balances the sweet acidity of the tomatoes and smooth herbaceous, earthy taste of fresh basil and drizzle of olive oil. It is visually appealing and a work of art, with the crust golden and the bright red tomato peaking through creamy white spots mozzarella

The only way I thought I can get my Neapolitan pizza fix would be in New York in such places as Keste’s or Motorinos. Yet, for the Bridge and Tunnel crowd, Nomad Pizza is creating pizza that is worth to be called Neapolitan pizza (I mean, If the Italians will allow it). If I did not know the address or was previously seeking out this establishment, I would easily walk by it. Nomad Pizza is located in a house that is probably the size of about a really big shack. They have some outdoor seating but overall, there was not much in seating. They have an enormous lawn and a beautiful garden with a weird looking sculpture and overall it was a very relaxed atmosphere. Inside the place, the center piece, besides their blue wood burning oven was a communal table which screamed, the word “commune” in my head. 

 Bruschetta- Some sexy looking veggies 

We started off with 2 appetizers which were part of their specials, their Bruschetta and an Arugula salad with pecans and goat cheese. Both of these appetizers hit the spot and if they were a preview of what the pizzas were going to be like, I had the equivalent of a culinary semi. The Bruschetta stood tall and overflowed on a piece of bread that kissed the oven just enough to get that subtle char. The usage of local and seasonal produce such as the Jersey tomatoes and peppers, it was destined to be a great dish and it was  One can taste the individual components of a complex dish is when you know you got something great and the sweetness of the tomatoes with the hit of balsamic made this dish phenomenal. The Arugula salad, was simplicity at its best. Tossed in lightly in vinaigrette, the warm bitterness Arugula and subtle sharpness of the goat cheese made this dish exciting.  I can go on and on about their very worthy appetizers but the main event and reason for coming was the pizza. 
  Arugula salad with pecans and goat cheese

We decided to go for the Margherita di Bufala, Arugula and Prosciutto and their Spicy Sausage. Here is the pizza by pizza play:

 Margherita di Bufla

Margherita di Bufla –tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. According to the Italian government, one of 3 styles of pizzas that can officially called Neapolitan pizza. The tomatoes had the right amount of acidity and the mozzarella had a slight saltiness to it and had just enough give. If supermarket bought mozzarella is your current base on what mozzarella should taste like then eating this will give you a brain fart. 3-4 fresh ingredients, if I was on Weight Watchers, I would cash in all those points just for a bite of this. 

Arugula and Prosciutto

Arugula and Prosciutto- This is officially my go to pie in any place that has Neapolitan. First, it has pork in it, and I am a big pork lover. The combination of arugula and prosciutto is simply magical. The arugula is thrown onto the pie after it is taken out of the oven, then the prosciutto, cut into thick, lumberjack sizes is thrown right on top. It blankets the arugula and uses the residual heat from the pie to lightly cook the arugula wilted, but still got its color and crunch. The addition of sharp parmesan brought the pie together.
Spicy Sausage 

The Spicy Sausage- The sausage, crumbled on top was paired with caramelized onions. I unfortunately did not have a hint of spiciness as advertised and I would have liked a bigger spice hit. One of the flaws of this pie that many places face is structural integrity. Since the Neapolitan is quite thin, the weight of the sausage caused extra pie droopage yet it did not take away fro the overall tastiness of the pie. 

Look at that fire go! Wood Burning!
The pizza at Nomad Pizza can stand up against any of the well established Neapolitan pizza joints in New York. They were able to achieve that char that one looks for in a good Neapolitan that gives it that smokiness that one looks for in Neapolitan. Although we have grown to know that black on food = bad, this is simply not true. Some black or char on a pizza is good as the Amateur Gourment points out in a whole entry. I too sir, believe in char on a pizza. 

 Perfect Pizza up-skirt with the slight char

Nomad Pizza opens at 5pm and if you are not in the mood to wait, I would suggest you get there when it opens. Slight tangent, they have Orange Fanta, which when I went to the Gambia I would drink with every meal and I would suggest getting. If it makes you feel less guilty, its from Mexico, so it is full of just good regular sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

Nomad Pizza
10 East Broad Street
Hopewell, NJ 08525-1800

Photos courtesy of Conway Yen 

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