Nomad Pizza Company – Hopewell, NJ

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It was the third time I’ve been to Nomad Pizza Company, a bucolic restaurant (pizza and salads, only) in Hopewell, New Jersey. Hopewell is most famous as the site of the notorious Lindburgh baby kidnapping and murder. Happily Hopewell at last has something much more pleasant of national interest, now with their Neapolitan style artisan pizzas steadily improving to the point that we judged the pizza on our visit yesterday to be superior to what we had a couple months ago at the famous Motorino in New York City. Nomad began as a pizza truck, complete with brick oven, which travels to state-wide street fairs and is available for hire for special events. So successful was this pizza judged (a Princeton professor friend of ours raved about it when the University hired them for a party a couple of years ago) that a street location was inevitable. The restaurant itself, right on Broad Street, has a very lovely setting reminiscent of an auberge with outdoor patio and garden. The place is always packed and no wonder.

For one thing, they’ve added a “Romana” or Roman style ultra thin crust pizza, something rarely attempted in the U.S. Cafe Fiorello in New York and their sister restaurants (Trattoria del Arte, etc) make them, but though cracker thin, their taste is even thinner. Nomad has mastered those tricky thin pizzas and their version, which we had as a Margherita, was crispy perfection with the wood charred crust making the taste memorable indeed. Along with this little wafer-thin miracle we ordered their Neapolitan style clam pie and once again hit paydirt. The tender garlicky clams with a perfect touch of hot pepper were ideal on the thick chewy crust, with just a hint of charring on the edges. The full-bodied nature of the crust meant that it held up even as the pizza cooled.

When I told the owner and pizzaiolo, Tom Grim (a co-owner with fellow pizzaiolo Stalin Bedon), that we liked his pizzas better than what we’d had at Motorino, he was pleased and noted that Anthony Mangieri of the late lamented Una Pizza Napoletana had been there twice. (Once would have been curious, but twice is a notable testimonial). We would rate Nomad as more memorable than Motorino, far superior to Keste, and even better than Co. (our favorite in the Big Apple). We found it superior also to Pizzeria Mozza in L.A. The best comparison may be to one of the pioneer Napolitan style pizzerias, the superb 2 Amys in Washington, DC.

Hopewell is about 45 minutes from Center City, Philadelphia, and 1 1/2 hours from New York City. It’s also about fifteen minutes from New Jersey’s venerable crown jewel of pizzerias, De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies, and Nomad now gives the lucky people in Central Jersey a wonderful choice between the old and the new.

Blog Comments

I have to say that I’m amazed at this review. The restaurant is fun with a great atmosphere but as far as this being better pizza than those mentioned above I’m simply shocked. The toppings are top notch but the crust almost consistently is limp with virtually no crispness whatsoever. I’ve been there many times — I keep going back because I live very close by and because of the atmosphere but NOT because of the pizza. The owner doesn’t seem to be paying attention to one of the most basic elements of his pizza.

Based on four visits to 2Amys and many happy visits to Nomad, I’d have to say that Nomad’s pizzas are superior.

2Amys has a much bigger menu, full bar, and great little, fresh doughnuts for weekend brunch crowd, but Nomad’s pizzas are better (at least to my mind). Now a major factor in Nomad’s favor is its small size– only 40 seats during the winter time (and maybe another 30 when outdoor dining is available). As a result, since pizza is the only thing (besides salad) on the menu, it arrives very shortly after removal from the oven. Nomad very reluctantly will sell takeout to its neighbors– but it discourages the practice, knowing that unless a pizza is piping hot out of the oven, it is not as good as it can be.
Mangia bene. And I prefer the Roman– but that’s just me.


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