Morgantown Dish: Eatery teaches pizza making from the Old Country

Co-owner Nick DeMedici’s Pizza Napoletana course, held at his restaurant Nonno Carlo, is truly seeped in Italian tradition — and a 22-page official International Regulation document for the recipe.  

The tale of how Nick’s family arrived in the United States is similar to other Italians’ history here. In 1907, Nick’s great-grandfather Pasquale came to Morgantown from the Abruzzo region of Italy, the rural geography and its mountainscapes comparable to that of West Virginia. Twenty-six years after he arrived on Ellis Island, Pasquale was granted citizenship. Only 20 days later, he was killed in a coal mining accident. His son, Carlo, Nick’s grandfather and who the restaurant is named for, became the man of the house. 

 Today, Carlo’s grandson is serious about pizza. He wanted to make his restaurant authentic so others could savor the flavors and enjoy the high-quality food that Italians celebrate. The only thing not imported from Italy to make this pizza and follow the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana regulation recipe is the fresh mozzarella. You just can’t get fresh buffalo milk in the U.S. The other ingredient that is hard to find is the official stamped and regulated San Marzano tomato, grown in the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius. The approved substitutes for these tomatoes are still DOP stamped and imported from Italy by the Nonno Carlo team for their pizza. 

 I had to jump at the opportunity to take his pizza making course. So, I gathered my fellow Morgantown foodies for a hands-on, 2-hour class where we crafted the perfect Neapolitan pie — and ate it, too! We learned the ins and outs, from making mozzarella from scratch, selecting the freshest ingredients for sauce and dough, tasting olive oil to finish and balsamic to dip the crust, and mastering the art of dough stretching. 

 The pizza, of course, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s a simple, light sauce that the fresh mozzarella and basil melt into, folded between a brick oven-fired, bready crust. I have been to Italy twice — my great-uncle just 20-minutes from Nick’s great-grandfather’s hometown — and this pizza is one of the closest things I’ve had to the real deal. 

 The sandwiches are not your typical sub-shop hoagies. Just as Nick is serious about pizza, he’s also serious about all the other food on the menu. Every ingredient, including meats and cheeses, are imported directly from Italy. If you want a sandwich that is piled high with cured goodness like prosciutto, mortadella and porchetta between moist pieces of focaccia bread, you go to Nonno Carlo. 

 This kind of quality isn’t run of the mill so you’re not going to pay run of the mill prices, but you’re literally putting your money where your mouth is. 

 Are you drooling, yet? Nick hosts classes for the public occasionally, but you can also email him directly, [email protected], if you are interested in getting a large group together and learning the Italian way! If you want first dibs on the next cooking class I’m hosting, join the Foodie Talk with The Morgantown Dish Facebook group and follow The Morgantown Dish on Instagram. 

Christina Iversen is the mouth behind The Morgantown Dish. The Morgantown Dish tastes, reviews and supports locally-owned restaurants in North Central West Virginia. Get the Dish on the best local eats in Morgantown at themorgantowndish.com or on Instagram @TheMorgantownDish.