Several weeks ago, as we were driving home from the Italian Market, I spotted Nomad Pizza, a very casual family-oriented place on the site of Horizons, the vegan restaurant that morphed into Vedge on Locust Street. I pulled out my notebook and added it to the restaurant review list.
Pizza arrived in America from Naples in the early years after World War II. Evidently, GIs loved it. Someone was smart enough to open a pizza shop somewhere on our shores.
Regular readers of my column know I love Santucci Square Pizza, the crisp pies from SliCE and the wild mushroom pie at Zavino Wine Bar Pizzeria. I looked forward to grading Nomad’s offering.
If you are looking for a real family pizzeria, Nomad is for you. It is a bi-level spot with long tables and comfortable chairs. It reminded me of the dining hall at Camp Green Lane without the bug juice.
Sandy, Edward and I were lucky to snag the last three seats downstairs as a large party just arrived and took over the upstairs.
The menu is simple: Pizza, salad and dessert. Nomad has a license to sell wine and beer. Nothing goes better with pizza than an ice cold brew on a warm, late spring evening.
Allagash White ($5.50) was on tap along with Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale ($5). A couple of a certain age was eating a spicy sopressata pie with knives and forks.
Caesar salad ($10) was one of the best versions in town. It consisted of two jumbo hearts of fresh, crisp organic romaine, halved and topped with homemade Caesar dressing; crisp flat, oven-baked croutons; whole anchovies; and shards of organic Parmesan. We divvied it up and polished it off with ease.
Roasted root vegetable salad ($10) was an inspiring choice. Beet salads are everywhere. This version got high marks. It consisted of red beets and candy beets along with baby carrots, which were roasted in Nomad’s wood-burning oven. The roots sat upon a bed of pea greens, which were sautéed in garlic and finished in the perfect touch of balsamic reduction. Tangy bits of goat cheese enhanced by garlic and chives put this gem over the top.
The crust on Nomad’s pizza has a puffy look to it. We sampled quattro formaggi ($15) and shiitake mushroom ($16).
The first pie was prepared with imported mozzarella di bufala, grand cru, caciocavallo and organic Parmesan topped with sweet juicy caramelized onions, a hint of basil, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. The combination of flavors in this pie was tops with us.
Next up was the mushroom pie also prepared with imported mozzarella di bufala, as well as Cherry Grove toma cheese, heady shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, organic garlic, drizzled with organic olive oil. We found parts of the bottom crust to be a bit soggy, but we liked the thin crust. Because you sit with strangers, you cannot help but speak with them. A couple next to us gave us a slice of Margherita pie for a slice of our mushroom pie. The homemade tomato sauce was light and refreshing and did not overpower the cheese and basil.
I should mention Nomad provides a pizza wheel to allow customers to divide up their pies. I’m not sure this is a good thing. Someone could mangle the dinner.
A new couple joined our table. The woman forgot her glasses so her husband read the menu to her in a booming voice. She looked familiar and as soon as I heard her husband call her Betty, I knew it was Betty Kaplan who works in the demo kitchen at the Reading Terminal Market. The five of us had a good chat and she did not blow my cover.
Tiramisu ($6) with three forks ended our delightful evening.
Service was as good as it gets. The staff was friendly and watched the tables. Clean plates arrived with each course.
I enjoyed my visit to Nomad Pizza. It was like summer camp and it is the perfect place for a child’s birthday bash.
Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to Nomad Pizza.