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.
Here is the first of what we hope will be regular dispatches from Grim:
Day one in Rome (Monday, Jan. 21) was eventful, starting from the flight. An elderly Italian woman passed out and was lying in the aisle right next to us. Two of our own (Jordon, an EMT, and Fawn, a nurse) helped the flight crew by taking her pulse and blood pressure. After 30 minutes of intense attention, the woman was able to get up and back to her seat. She might have had the flu.
We started the day with all 15 of our group walking to see Trevi Fountain. On the way we stopped at the Pantheon. This is my fourth time visiting Trevi Fountain,
We all threw in a coin and took lots of photos.
We are in Italy to eat all kinds of pizza, not just the Neapolitan variety that we love. We walked to Monte Carlo, a large and very busy pizzeria with many long community tables. They are closed on Mondays. Their website gives no clue as to when and when not they are open.
We decided to get some sliced pizza - pizza al taglio. The pizza is made in big pans and usually cut with sissors and sold by the weight. We planned dinner at The Morgue, which is the nickname of Pizzeria Ai Marmi, because of its many cold marble tables. It is very popular with locals. It does not open until 7 p.m., when it usually fills up instantly.
The way they make pizza here is amazing. They roll out dough with a wooden dowel - 24 at a time. They put 24 doughs on the counter and build 24 pizzas. Then they put them all in a huge wood-fired oven and take them out 2 minutes later. This is done 5 times an hour. By contrast, our oven at Nomad holds 6 or 7 pizzas max.
We ordered 13 pizzas, wine and beer. Beer is served in big bottles, no draft beer. It is quite a sight to see waiters carrying 10 pizzas a time.
This pizza is much different than Neapolitan pizza. The dough is very thin, and mostly crispy as opposed to soft and pliable. The cheese is a hard, crumbled mozzarella, not delicate fresh mozzarella.
I ordered a Margarita, my standard pizza for comparison. While it was good, it was a bit disappointing, probably because of the cheese. Others had pizza with toppings and seemed to enjoy them more. Sausage with mushrooms was a favorite, and squash blossoms on pizza.
Dead tired from flying, we walked after dinner, enjoyed a gelato, and went to the hotel early.
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