Fast-rising Nomad and Nomad Roman, from pizza truck to 5-oven operation
With three pizzerias, a mobile pizza truck and five different ovens, the Nomad crew has had quite the rise of pizza star power.
For owners Tom Grimm and Stalin Bedon, the journey has taken them and their staff all over Italy. Each region influenced them differently and each oven is dedicated to the varieties they now serve at two separate Philly locations: Nomad Pizza, which opened in February of 2012, and Nomad Roman, which opened in October of 2013.
It took a forklift to maneuver the 5,000-pound oven into position at Nomad Pizza on 7th Street, where Neapolitan pizza is the specialty.
"I unloaded it," said owner Stalin Bedon. "We had to remove the wall from the side of the building to fit the oven through the door. And then we were able to put in those beautiful wooden doors."
The copper-wrapped oven is brick, with a clay floor and a brick casting dome. It was built in California, but it's the Italian design that's credited with keeping the perfect temperature.
An historic lack of natural resources like wood in Europe created a need for really efficient insulation. So they use a material called vermiculite for insulation, in order to cut back on the amount of wood they need to heat the oven, explained Bedon.
"We really go through very little wood," he said. "Our oven is at 850 degrees, and in the morning it's 650 because it holds the heat so well."
Nomad generally uses a mix of kiln-dried hard woods like beech and oak, but a connection with some local tree guys will sometimes yield a fresh batch of cherry or hickory.
The pizzas cook in about 90 seconds, if everything is working accordingly, said Bedon.
The finished product is as appetizing as you could hope with a charred, doughy outer crust and a semi-soft inner slice, which may evoke an Italian practice of eating pizza with a fork and knife. With toppings like truffle, arugula and egg, the pies at Nomad are a vision of deliciousness.
Time spent tasting in Rome inspired the pies over on 13th Street at Nomad Roman. The pizzas are larger than at the 7th Street restaurant, about 14 inches in diameter, and take longer to bake — a whole two minutes, if you can believe it. And the oven runs a little cooler, too, at about 700 degrees. The pizzas have a thin, almost cracker-like crust and a poignant char around the edges.
The Roman crew uses the same wood-only technique to fire things up, but the design is completely different. It's built all of brick and set into the wall. There's no casting, but they wrapped the original brick face in copper, matching the veneer to its 7th Street counterpart.
The oven actually predates the restaurant and has outlasted more than a few Gayborhood tenants, including the short-lived Spiga. It dates back to 1990 when the owners of Girasole, now located in the Symphony House, had it imported from Puglia, Italy, and installed.
Continue on your pizza journey
Support provided by
South Street: Nomad Pizza Company, 611 S 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 Midtown Village/Gayborhood: Nomad Roman, 1305 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107