A Clockwork Orange is squirming across the floor-to-ceiling projection screen in the woodsy second-floor dining room of Nomad Pizza. It's Friday, one of Nomad's movie nights, and diners — fans of Kubrick and artisanal Neapolitan pizza alike — are crowded along a communal table built from salvaged floor beams.
I like my pies without a side of masochistic violence — food-friendlier viewing fare includes Superbad and Austin Powers — but Nomad's might just be worth the Malcolm McDowell-induced indigestion.
Tucked in the Bella Vista space formerly home to Horizons, this three-month-old pizzeria is the third for Nomad owners Tom Grim and Stalin Bedon. The original is on wheels, cruising the cul-de-sacs of Jersey since 2007. The second is a brick-and-mortar establishment in Hopewell, just outside Princeton, whose famous university supplied the beams from which the Philly shop's communal table is built.
"We thought it would be interesting to be in a city," says Grim. "There's a pizza renaissance happening [in Philly], and it's great to be a part of that."
Join me in offering him and Bedon a wholehearted welcome. With pies as winning as their mozzarella and spicy sopressata, bright with oregano and sticky with honey (a Hopewell waitress's money recommendation), you'll want to get in the duo's good graces. I love the dynamic, chewy/crispy texture and yeasty, subtly sour flavor of their pizzas, a credit to the dough, which ages four to six days before seeing 800 to 850 degrees ?inside the copper-plated, Italian wood-burning oven.
The clam pizza, which I ordered "Roman style" (a less fermented dough stretched thin as matzo), wasn't as transcendent as the sopressata — I'd can the canned clams — but Nomad recovered with a dessert pie slathered in Nutella and garnished with strawberry hearts and crushed toasted hazelnuts. Chef Charles Menasion does a smattering of salads, too, with an emphasis on organic, seasonal produce like slender asparagus in a warm dandelion salad with confit tomatoes. And if the meatballs are on special, get them; it's hard to find ones more tender than his marinara-simmered spheres of beef, pork and veal.
The pizzas are definitely the stars at Nomad, but the starters, desserts — wow wow wow, vivid raspberry sorbet from Princeton's acclaimed The Bent Spoon — and a tidy beer and wine list turn this breezy pizzeria into a legit dining destination. Sure, you can still pop in for takeout, but it's hard to resist Nomad's convenient combo. Dinner and a movie 2012, no popcorn required.
Nomad Pizza Co. | 611 S. Seventh St., 215-238-0900, nomadpizzaco.com. Open Tue.-Thu., 6-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon-11 p.m.; Sun., noon-9 p.m. Appetizers, $6-$12; pizzas, $11-$19; dessert, $5-$6.50.