January 28, 2020 – For the past 16 months, the Folktale family has had a bun in the oven. Now like proud parents, chefs Todd Fisher, Aaron Rayor and Petra Jung are excited to finally show off their new bundle of joy with the arrival of Rise + Roam in Carmel on Friday.
Rise + Roam is actually a pair of projects—a bakery and pizzeria—twins unlike anything else in town. “I’m thrilled to offer another non-conformist Carmel restaurant, something we’ve typically had to go to other cities to experience,” says Folktale’s VP of culinary operations Todd Fisher.
“There are two types of people: people who cook and people who bake. We get to see both sides of that very clearly here,” says pastry chef Petra Jung. “You kind of have the best of both worlds.”
Executive chef Aaron Rayor will oversee pizza, bread and other savory selections for Rise + Roam. He most recently was exec chef at Cantinetta Luca, but previously the southern California native worked in some of Los Angeles’ top kitchens, including downtown darling Bestia.
Pastry chef Petra Jung will helm Rise + Roam’s bakery. Jung had her own farm-to-fork restaurant in Ashland, Oregon, with partner Tony Travanty. A fortuitous Craigslist connection while visiting San Francisco brought her to the pastry team at Aubergine, then more recently she ventured down the coast to Post Ranch Inn.
The two are excited by their new collaboration. “Our interests cross over. I like to cook savory items, but it’s not what keeps me up at night. He likes to bake, but it’s not what keeps him up at night. We get to have a cool partnership and team,” says Jung. “Our product is going to be really special, really singular, and it’s not something that exists in Carmel.”
Blurring the boundaries between restaurant and bakery and between savory and sweet service energizes Fisher, “I’m most excited about the freedom that this project gives Aaron and Petra, and what they will give to our community in a new unique and delicious way.”
Certainly Rise + Roam’s focus on Roman-style pizza will be a first for Carmel—and the entire Central Coast. Rayor notes there isn’t any Roman-style pizza between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, “We wanted something that would help differentiate ourselves from all the other styles of pizza.”
What is Roman-style pizza? “Compared to a Neapolitan style, it has a cracker crust bottom and a fluffy, airy center,” explains Rayor. Specifics can vary—served on paddles vs. skillets, cooked rectangular vs. round—but the crack of the crust is always there.
A 72-hour fermentation breaks down the flour to give Rayor’s dough its flavor and fluff. Rise + Roam’s pizzas are baked in an electric Pizzamaster oven, which achieves temperatures of around 590 degrees for the pizzas’ signature crisp. It’s one of just three ovens in the state—and it’s in esteemed company considering the other two reside at San Francisco’s famed Flour + Water restaurant and Tartine Manufactory’s spinoff in Los Angeles.
During early previews, one pizza impressed with a mountain of mortadella with red peppers, finished with mozzarella and pistachios, while another gave a playful nod to saltimbocca alla Romana with prosciutto, chanterelle mushrooms and provolone with a luxurious savory sweet marsala sauce finished with fried sage leaves. A vegan pizza starts with a cashew crema finished with spicy Fresno chile peppers and savory stinging nettles for a plant-based option sure to wow not just vegans and vegetarians, but also us omnivores looking to cut back on meat. (Unfortunately, there are no gluten-free pizza options.)
Pizzas are sold by the meter and served on wooden paddles: Choose from a meter (a family portion a little over three feet long), half meter (a portion for two, about 18 inches long) or a quarter meter (a portion for one, about 10 inches long). There’s also an option to customize a whole meter pizza with your choice of toppings and sauce.
While pizzas are the focus, the menu also boasts unique salads. With options like rouge treviso radicchio, heirloom cauliflower, and braised artichoke and fingerling potatoes, the menu easily meets Fisher’s vision for “no boring salads.” A puffed grains salad stood out during the friends and family tasting with a bowl of crisp and crunchy rice studded with bright and aromatic fine herbs, all finished with a runny fried egg and the sublime sting of housemade hot sauce.
Dinner also features a menu of handmade pastas from Rayor, including classic Roman cacio e pepe spaghetti alla chitarra, a filling tagliatelle bolognese and a vegan cavatelli with olive and fried capers. “It doesn’t get any more traditional or better than hand-rolled pasta. It’s a labor of love,” says Rayor. (Lunch will see soup, sandwiches and toasts in place of pasta.)
For now, Jung has a limited menu of sweet treats for dessert—including espresso affogato, cheesecake and churros—but expects offerings to expand once the bakery next door goes live.
In a few weeks’ time, Jung will have a chance to show off her pastry prowess in the bakery. The pastry case will change often, but Jung and Rayor tease sweet selections like a pistachio croissant and fresh doughnuts. Loaves of Rayor’s sourdough breads will be available for purchase, plus brioche and babka from Jung.
Eventually, the bakery and pizzeria will be open from 6:30am-10pm daily. The bakery will open at 6:30am and offer savory and sweet treats throughout the day. In the morning, patrons will be able to sit in the pizzeria. Pizza service will then begin at 11:30am with lunch available until 3pm. At 4pm, the pizzeria will switch over to a dinner menu. The pizzeria will also offer takeout with a 30-minute parking spot out front for pickup for phone orders too.
Beyond the unique twinning of restaurant and bakery, Rise + Roam is continuing the trend toward more accessible, casual eateries in Carmel.
Greg Ahn—Folktale Wine Group President and CEO—explains, “As someone who has raised his family here in Carmel, coming downtown with my kids was always a challenge. Finding a place where I could go and have a casual bite at a reasonable price was very difficult.”
Rayor hopes Rise + Roam becomes a neighborhood spot for locals across the Monterey Peninsula, including families and students. “I want to serve food people want to eat on a regular basis. It’s a place to come and hang out, it’s not a special occasion place,” he says. Jung emphasizes diners can still expect top quality, “Aaron and I have been able to work in some of the upper echelons of fine dining. We can give a nod to our more fine dining roots by incorporating those techniques in simpler and more approachable foods.”
Assistant manager Maxwell Veloz echoes Rayor’s community aspirations for Rise + Roam, “When you’re here with your family, you’re going to laugh, have a good time, get some good food and go home happy.”
Friends and family tastings by invitation will continue this week, with plans to open the pizzeria to the community for dinner on Friday with hours and menu expanding in the weeks ahead.
Rise + Roam • Corner of Mission Street and Seventh Avenue, Carmel • 574-2900, instagram.com/riseandroambakery
Raúl Nava — he/him — is a freelance writer covering dining and restaurants across the Central Coast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @offthemenu831.