Stalin Bedon and Tom Grim, who own the Nomad Pizza Co. shops near South Street and in Hopewell, N.J., closed down, packed up, and flew themselves and longtime staff to Italy for a 10-day eating excursion. It's all about pizza. "We think it is important that our staff gets a taste of the food culture and have a point of reference for pizza," said Grim.
Today's blog entry was written by Cherilyn Gilligan, a server.
Awoke around 5 a.m. before there was much light and listened to the church bell as it counted off each quarter-hour.
Adjusting to the time difference has its perks.
Hotel Santa Maria is very still at this hour except for the gulls perched on the terraces along the adjoining buildings. An early jog along the Tiber River and around Trastevere neighborhood provided a glimpse of the locals setting up shop along sidewalks, delivering groceries or flowers, and catching their buses to work. Back at the hotel, a breakfast spread of scrambled eggs, bread, cheese, prosciutto, and a number of sweets, like nutella criossants, fruit tarts and cookies. I love breakfast, but as I drink my cappuccino I’m already thinking about pizza!
We meet at Pizzeria la Montecarlo at 1:30. Well, most of us do - Teddy is fashionably late but he and Fawn join us eventually, and we get started with appetizers of bruschetta with porcini mushrooms, oil-cured black olives, and white beans. We order a few carafes of house red, sparkling water and pasta and pizzas all around.
The pasta is prepared al dente, and we try the penne all’arrabbiata, gnocchi quattro formaggi, spaghetti cacio e pepe, and carbonara. The arrabbiata has a nice bite to it but without cream in the sauce like we serve in Philadelphia. The cacio e pepe is delicious, with lots of cracked black pepper, but I have to say I prefer Nomad's version - more cheese than oil.
The pizza is thin, Roman-style crust, of course. It is crunchy and brittle on the edges. The waiter carries out 6 pizzas at a time and shouts them out as he places them in front of us. “Funghi! Marinara! Cipolli!” He is as excited as we are and jokes with us, speaking mostly Italian. Everything is delicious. I am partial to the Cipolli that I ordered and I finish it all after sharing a bit.
Dessert? “Si, certo!” Panna cotta with chocolate and caramel, and tiramisu. I am in heaven.
Full and happy we start our walk to the Spanish Steps for a bit of sightseeing and more people-watching.
And, yes, more dessert! Gelato from Giolitti! The canella tastes just like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so awesome!
The orange and pistachio are equally amazing. I am so stuffed by the time we make our way to the Spanish Steps I need a break before I can make it to the top. Another full day in Rome!
Catch up on the trip
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
Part 3 is here
Part 4 is here
Part 5 is here
Part 6 is here
Part 7 is here
Part 8 is here