Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nomad Pizza

Sept. 2009 108 If you’ve never eaten pizza yanked out of a wood-fired brick oven, you’ve missed out on one of life’s great pleasures. I’m lucky enough to have eaten it in Naples where pizza was born, and also to have a friend with a real Italian brick oven in his back yard.  After eating such great pizzas, the bar was set pretty high for anything else. But a good contender emerged about a month ago when Nomad Pizza in nearby Hopewell opened its doors and unleashed this big blue behemoth on a grateful public.

Sept. 2009 093 Prior to opening the restaurant, Nomad pizza operated for two years out of a restored 1949 Reo Speedwagon, outfitted with a wood-fired brick oven.  It roamed the region, appearing at seasonal events, local farmer’s markets and private parties.  It was parked at this year’s Communiversity festival, a town-gown event held in Princeton, where I savored Nomad pizza for the first time. Nothing beats eating pizza in Italy, but I have to say, Nomad’s was almost as good as being in Naples.

070602_Nomad_014Sadly, since that time, I haven’t encountered the truck along my usual routes. But fortunately owners Tom Grim (who co-founded then later sold Thomas’ Sweet ice cream) and Stalin Bedon found a permanent home for their pizza at the site of the former Soupe du Jour in Hopewell. The mammoth brick-oven, imported from Italy, is the focus of the room. Diners can watch their pizzas being made and baked right before their eyes.

Sept. 2009 106  Stalin (at left holding pizza peel) and Tom (pushing pizza into the oven)

The room is set up with a large communal table and several smaller ones around the perimeter. Outdoor tables are also available if weather permits.

Sept. 2009 105

The pizzas aren’t heavily laden with toppings, in the tradition of Italian pizzas. The focus is on a great crust, tomatoes, the cheese, basil and olive oil. Of course, it helps to have the dough-stretching technique downpat (two of the pizza makers trained in Italy) and that fantastic wood-fired oven that cranks the heat up to 800 degrees or more. But the freshness of the ingredients is also key, Grim said.

One taste and you’ll agree. All pizzas (there were six on the menu the night we visited) are made with organic and locally grown products whenever possible including the basil, garlic, shitake mushrooms, sausage and pepperoni. Imported from Italy are the San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala and fontina cheese.   The two salads on the menu are also made with locally sourced, fresh organic ingredients. They were delicious, but the pizzas are the real stars here. Like this one with shitake mushrooms:

Sept. 2009 107

And this one with pesto and locally grown organic cherry tomatoes:

Sept. 2009 094 And my favorite, the spicy sausage pizza made with fennel-flavored sausage from locally raised pigs:

Sept. 2009 109

Hungry yet? If you live anywhere in Central New Jersey (or even if you don’t and you want to take a trip to a quaint town brimming with antique shops and eateries) get yourself to Nomad Pizza. They’re open only Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.


  1. Mmmhhh, those look delicious!



  2. I could live only on pizzas, you know? My fav is with ham and mushrooms with mozzarella di bufala.....maybe tonight we'll have a home delivery.........

  3. ah...such delightful looking pizzas! I like the idea of the simple, minimal toppings. And I agree, wood-fired brick oven pizza is hands down one of the bests.

  4. Hi Linda, I love this post! I am looking forward to having Nomad pizza at the Cherry Grove Farms pasture party in November. Actually, I might not be able to wait that long - I might need to head out to Hopewell before then! Thanks for the information and great photos!

  5. Can you believe I am craving pizza from Paris????
    How could I not know about Nomad Pizza? You've been holding out on me.
    We are trying it as soon as we get home!

  6. Wood fired cooked pizza is always so good! Nomad Pizza has such a pretty oven, and their pizzas look scrumptious --I'd have a hard time choosing one among the six!

    Do you believe the security word I was given to type was "garlic"? LOL!

  7. I will have to try this one out - but Pizza and Pasta in Piscataway also has great pizza. They have a wood fire brick oven that you can see as you walk in the restaurant. Not as "colorful" as this one - but it is front and center to the door. Joe (our favorite pizza man)has been there for at least 15 years (through both owners) and makes one heck of a pizza.

    There is another one in Manville, but its been so long since I've been there - I can't remember if they have a wood fired brick oven or not (it was a second location).

    I love the Pizza and Pasta Special - fresh garlic, mozzarella and tomato sauce - perfect together.

  8. I could live on that kind of pizza so healthy looking, yum!
    So that is what an REO Speedwagon looks always thought it was just the rockband's name!

  9. intense pizza craving now!!
    i don't have a refrigerator right now... can't start missing my oven too, much less craving a giant wood one! mmm but it all looks so good.

  10. Mmmmm, I don't know which one I'd dig into first, maybe that pesto and tomato one, and dfinitely the mushroom too. The crust looks amazing!

  11. This is my idea of the perfect pizza, one not drowning in too much sauce. Don't know which one I would try first.

  12. Hi Linda,
    I work with your cousin Linda who told me about your blog, and with my first visit I have to say I am officially hooked! Oh my...who wouldn't be?!? Wood fired pizzas are one of our favorite foods, unfortunately they are hard to come by. Maybe next summer's project will be an outside oven :) Thanks for making my belly growl!

    Rebecca - From:
    (I'm the "& Co.")

  13. How THAT is pizza! What a great place to have near you.

  14. That pizza looks amazing.

    I ate at Da Michele's in Naples earlier this year. The pizza was so good I wanted to cry.