Rise + Roam

Aaron Rayor and Todd Fisher.

 Get ready for a taste of Rome here on the Central Coast with the arrival of Rise + Roam—the newest project for the Folktale Wine Group—in Carmel late this summer.

The playful name alludes to “rising” for coffee and baked goods and “roaming” for food, and also gives a wink to Rome, which has inspired the spot’s pizza program. “Rise + Roam is going to be incredible,” says Todd Fisher, Vice President of Hospitality for the Folktale Wine Group. “We’re going to have a tremendous selection of these Roman-style pizzas and fantastic laminated dough pastries.”

It’s the pizza that’s really piqued Fisher’s fancy—“Everyone loves pizza. Everyone.”—and he’s excited to highlight a style that’s new to town, “You can’t find any Roman-style pizza between San Francisco and Santa Barbara.”

Now as work on the concept kicks off, Fisher has brought Aaron Rayor into the fold as Rise + Roam’s executive chef.

Most recently, Rayor was executive chef at Carmel’s Cantinetta Luca, where his pizzas and pastas were favorites for local foodies. Rayor’s resume also includes stints at notable national hotspots, including Bestia in Los Angeles and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.

“I’ve grown so much over the last two years. I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned as a chef and as a manager from my experience at Luca,” says Rayor. “I’ve got so much respect for Todd and for Tom [Snyder, executive chef, Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse] and Danny [Leach, chef de cuisine, Folktale Winery]—everyone here is so passionate about their work. I’m excited to join the team.”

Fisher is almost giddy about bringing Rayor into the Folktale family at Rise + Roam, “He’s a genius—a dough geek. I keep calling him our ‘Chief Dough Dude’ because he has such a passion for bread. I pitch him this thing, this idea, and he makes it even better.”

Rise + Roam is actually a pair of projects: a pizzeria and an adjacent bakery. The pizzeria will occupy the former 400 Degrees location at the corner of Mission and Seventh, with the bakery taking over the space next door that was previously home to the offices for the Mirabel hospitality group.

“There’s no family-friendly pizzeria in town,” explains Fisher. “We want to be the place to go after a game or with your church group, where you can get together with family or friends—a little more low key experience around pizza.” Rayor shares Fisher’s vision for a more affordable and accessible concept, “We want this to be a place that’s open for all. You should be able to have a good meal, with quality food, without breaking the bank.”

The pizzeria finds Rayor in familiar territory after his recent tenure at Cantinetta Luca. But the focus here won’t be the quick wood-fired napoletana-style that’s become popular nationwide.

Inspired by street vendors in Rome, this is al taglio pizza, with dough that’s slowly cold fermented before baking. The cold fermentation means more gluten gets broken down by the yeast, yielding a dough that’s more aerated and less dense. This style of pizza is famously served from large, rectangular slabs, and often cut to order with scissors.

“When we went to the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, the entire show was overrun with Roman-style pizza,” recalls Fisher. “It’s the trend. It’s taking over a market that’s been dominated for 15 years or more by neapolitan-style pizza.” And with a laugh, he adds, “The fact that we’re doing something on trend and on time is a little bit scary.”

Fisher describes Rise + Roam’s pizza plan, “You can order pizza by the meter, half meter or quarter meter. Pizza goes down on the table, with scissors on the platter to cut your own pizza.”

The menu will also feature some appetizers and antipasti and a number of salads. Pastas may be occasional specials. And Fisher plans to offer soft-serve ice cream for dessert.

The adjoining bakery will give Rayor the chance to flex his pastry experience. “When I was living in LA, I was injured and couldn’t really work in a kitchen for a year, so I went to pastry school,” he recalls. “I started learning all about bread and making bread for family and friends. I was making a new boule every day, ‘Here, try this one.’ I think they finally started getting sick of it.”

So naturally, breads will be a big focus for Rayor at Rise + Roam. He promises a number of different loaves and toasts. “Eventually, I’d love to mill our own grain from local farms and make a truly local bread,” teases Rayor.

The bakery will also provide bread for the extended Folktale family. “We weren’t even talking about a pizzeria originally, we just wanted a bakery,” explains Fisher. “We use so much bread at the winery and at 7D, and we’ll use a lot at Pacific Bowls and Rolls, too. It came down to efficiency in what we do.”

Also look for a focus on laminated dough: croissants, pain au chocolat and kouign amann. A finishing room enclosed in glass will give diners a peek into the process for making tarts, eclairs and other treats.

Rayor likens the model to hip LA favorite République restaurant, where diners can choose pastries and bread from the case or sit down for a meal. Fisher promises a pioneering business model for Carmel that includes counter service. While traditional counter service is prohibited in Carmel, Rise + Roam worked with the city on an inventive solution: Diners will order at a counter, but checks will be closed and paid for at the table. Also look for local delivery in Carmel and delivery outside the city via Uber Eats and Grubhub. Reserved parking spots in the garage will accommodate pickup too.

Rayor’s arrival cements the Folktale family of projects—Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley, Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse in Carmel and the upcoming Pacific Bowls and Rolls in downtown Monterey—as a hospitality heavyweight.

For now, Rayor himself is roaming among the three Folktale properties: He’ll help out Chef de Cuisine Danny Leach with events at Folktale Winery, he’s working with Executive Chef Tom Snyder to develop a charcuterie program for Seventh & Dolores, and he’ll support the opening of Pacific Bowls and Rolls on Alvarado Street later this month.

“I’m ecstatic about our team. I’ve got this Avengers of chefs that are fired up to do stuff,” says Fisher. “Danny, Aaron, Tom, Eddie [Martinez, chef, Pacific Bowls and Rolls], Adam [Wulf, pastry sous chef, Seventh & Dolores]—these younger chefs are fired up and inspired and want to do amazing things. I’m so proud that we get to create opportunity for them and create a launching pad for them.”

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