Attention to detail are three words that summarize Mario Spina’s approach to pizza making. His NaRoma Pizza Bar (on Locke Street in Hamilton and on Brant Street in Burlington) has been celebrated for several years as one of the go-to pizza spots. Why does it taste so good? NaRoma Pizza Bar combines the best of Rome and Naples traditions. In Rome, Pizza Al Taglio is traditionally made in large rectangular trays and sold by the slice. It also combines the Neapolitans’ demand for the highest quality crust. Dough is made daily with a secret blend of imported flours, extra virgin olive oil, fresh traditional ingredients, and natural yeast. Made with time and love, it is set to rest for a minimum of 72 hours before being baked with simple or creative combinations. Interested in learning more about Hamilton’s Dean of Dough? Then read on!
You’re obsessed with dough like no other in the city. Why?
My passion for high quality dough and fresh bread stems from my earliest memories as a child. Growing up, every Sunday morning my papa would bring home the freshest loaf of Calabrese bread from the local Italian bakery. To this day, I recall the satisfaction of my brothers and I breaking and devouring those warm loaves of hard on the outside, warm and moist on the inside loaves of bread. It was these memories that forged my passion for high quality hand crafted breads.
As I aged so did my desire to recreate my childhood memories for not only myself but to be shared with others. This passion led me to travel across Italy where I apprenticed under master pizzaiolli of Napoli and Roma. This experience combined with our family philosophy of minimal and organic ingredients are the heart and soul of NaRoma Pizza Bar. We here at NaRoma strive for excellence, we use no preservatives in our double zero wheat flour, extra virgin olive oil, kosher sea salt, purified water and only a touch of yeast (less yeast, more flavour). The most important ingredient in NaRoma kitchen is time. It took me years of practice, studying, experimenting with different ingredients to perfect the perfect NaRoma 72hr slow rise dough.
What are some of the small business challenges you faced?
Believe it or not, opening, creating, and running a small independent restaurant needs lots of patience, love and determination. I do believe that every small business faces their own unique set of challenges. For me personally my biggest challenge will be the next one! When you’re in business for yourself, everyday requires your constant care and attention. A big challenge in the hospitality area is balancing family time with business when the business needs you the most, largely evenings and weekends. The food scene in Hamilton has experienced a rapid transformation with many great new spots that are competing for customers. This increased competition challenges us to stay current and relevant, to that I say, stay tuned!
How would you describe Hamilton in 5 words?
Ready. Cultured. Traditional. Picturesque. Home.
NaRoma pizzas come in four sizes: Solo, Coppia, Famiglia, and Festa. Favourite pizzas like Siciliana, Salsiccia e Rapini, Calabrese, Quattro Formaggi, Funghi, Patate, and of course, Margherita are on the menu, as well as other Italian classics like Caprese Salad, Stracciatella Soup, and a good wine, cocktail and appertivo list. Finish off your meal with a Nutella Pizza, Sicilian Cannoli, or Tiramisu. Buon Appetito! Visit NaRoma Pizza Bar at 215 Locke St S, Hamilton AND 901 Brant St, Burlington.
Interview as told to Michael Marini as part of the 3 Big Questions, 1 Small Business series. Marini is the Coordinator of Marketing for the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Office. He can be reached at @hamiltonecdev and @marinitweet.