The Life of Spice

Nick Anderer and Martina Pizza Spices

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This month we sit down with Nick Anderer of the newly opened pizzeria Martina in the East Village. We’re excited to share new blends we developed together that are designed to enhance pizza.

Nick Anderer

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us! What would you say sets Martina apart from Marta (which you opened in 2014) and what experience would you like for patrons to have?

Martina reminds me more of the rustic and lively neighborhood joints I loved when I was in Rome. We wanted it to still be beautiful like Marta, but with the energy that comes from a cozy and casual space.

Sounds fun! Can you tell us a bit about your favorite combos of topping and spice?

So while we designed the spices to really go with everything, I definitely think that the Finocchio blend really livens up meat based pies. The mushroom powder adds a great umami hit to our sausage pizza. I love the Garlic-Parmigiano Salt with our simpler vegetarian pies like the margarita.

Martina, Fiori di Zucca Pizza_(Liz Clayman) copy

Any tips on making pizza at home for the people not lucky enough to get to visit?

Use a basic and uncomplicated recipe for the dough, flour, water, yeast. And figure out how to get your oven as hot as possible. Focus on getting the best possible ingredients, like tomatoes with the right balance of tart and sweet. When we were working on our sauce we went through as many tomatoes as we could get our hands on to discover our favorite. Overall, always try to get back to simple!

Do you have a favorite spice or blend?

Outside of the restaurant I love cooking with cumin, black pepper, and flavorful dried Mexican chilies like pasillas.

Martina, Pizza and Champagne_(Liz Clayman) copy

How about a dream you have not yet accomplished?

I’d love to travel more of the world. Every culture has its own traditions and foods and getting there is really the only way to experience. High on my list: northern Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Greece, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Last meal?

Sushi and cold beer!

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All photos © Liz Clayman unless noted.

Nick Anderer is the Executive Chef of Martina, Union Square Hospitality Group’s Roman-inspired pizzeria in New York’s East Village. As an Art History major at Columbia University, Anderer spent an influential year abroad in Rome, where he was incredibly inspired by the food culture of the city. Upon his return, he began to pursue his passion for cooking, taking a job in Buzzy O’Keefe’s kitchen at the Water Club. After graduating from Columbia, he moved to Larry Forgione’s An American Place, Rose Hill, and Manhattan Prime, where he worked for just over a year. He went on to work for Mario Batali at Babbo where he honed his skills on the pasta station. After two years at Babbo, Anderer returned to Italy to cook throughout kitchens in Rome and Milan, learning more about the cuisine and traditions of the country that first inspired him to cook professionally.

When he returned to New York City, Anderer was hired at Gramercy Tavern, first working under Tom Colicchio, where he worked as a meat-roaster, saucier and sous chef. And later, when Mike Anthony took over the kitchen, Nick became his Executive Sous Chef. In this new role, he helped reinvigorate Gramercy Tavern’s pasta program, while developing a deep and lasting respect for vegetables and the farmers who grew them. In 2009 he opened Maialino, a Roman-style trattoria in Gramercy Park, as the Executive Chef, and in 2014, building on the success of Maialino, he opened Marta, a Roman-style pizzeria and grill on 29th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. He was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as a Best Chef: New York City semifinalist in 2014 and 2015.

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