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Pizza Club 2.0: Nota Bene's Victoria DeRoche breaks the first rule with rebooted monthly club 1/29

Posted by: Amy – Jan 27, 2017

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You may have heard rumblings a few years ago of several local restaurateurs getting together for pizza and booze at the home of Victoria DeRoche, now owner of Italian restaurant Nota Bene, for what would become known as Pizza Club. No one was allowed to talk about it, but we all knew it was happening.

And now DeRoche, along with several RVA brewers and restaurant owners, are giving Pizza Club a reboot and this time not only do you get to talk about it, but starting this weekend, you get to be a member too.

DeRoche is taking her monthly backyard pizza parties and turning it into a monthly event where the public can dine on a special pizza created by some of Richmond’s finest restaurant owners, along with specialty cocktails and tap takeovers by local brewers.

“It’s fun to see it go from a fun gathering to now bringing it a different playing field where we can host it at a restaurant…” DeRoche said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia.”

It all started back in 2009 and for two years every month DeRoche would invite her friends, which included Nate Gutierrez now of Don’t Look Back, Julia Battaglini of Secco Wine Bar and others over for a potluck, but with a twist. Members would come up with a pizza recipe based on DeRoche’s theme, and they’d make that pizza right there in the backyard with a small wood-fired oven.

“I would provide dough and sauce and I would throw out a prompt, and the prompt would be like heirloom tomatoes are in season, make your favorite pizza based on an heirloom tomato…or make your favorite pizza that’s based on a soup. People were encouraged to do a signature cocktail or I would do a signature cocktail for the event.”

And while they weren't making masterpieces, DeRoche said it was very successful and fun.

“More or less we had this a little tiny 24-inch wood-fired oven in the backyard and we could do like one pizza at a time and we weren’t very good at doing any of this, so people would drink a lot and then have about 1/18 of a slice of a 12-inch pie, but it was a lot of fun, it was really well received,” she said.

DeRoche said they stopped doing it when it grew so popular she had strangers showing up at her house.

The monthly Pizza Club is also what led to DeRoche launching her mobile and carry out pizza business, Pizza Tonight in 2010, followed by a brick and mortar of the business in the spring of 2015 which DeRoche then changed the name to Nota Bene in June 2016 which is currently serving up pizza, pasta, salads, brunch and more on East Main Street.

“It’s kind of where it all started,” she said.

But while she runs a restaurant full-time, that desire to get together, drink, have fun and eat pizza with friends never left her, crazy right? So, DeRoche recently started kicking the idea around with Kevin Clay, owner of Big Spoon Agency, who wanted to know the story behind the original Pizza Club, which is how the they came up with the idea for the new, revamped Pizza Club.

“We kind of fleshed it out of what that would look like and went through a couple of incarnations until we settled on, ‘let’s invite someone from the RVA dine community’,” she said.

All of the Pizza Club events will take place at DeRoche’s restaurant Nota Bene on Sundays and DeRoche will be baking up the pies in her wood-fired oven, but the restaurant owners will be creating the recipes along with a signature cocktail or other special beer.

This month’s Pizza Club, which kicks off this Sunday, will feature special guests Julia Battaglini and Dave Martin of Secco Wine Bar, who were original Pizza Club members.

“What I’ve asked Julia to do is come up with a pizza recipe, she’s given me some o the cheeses she wants to use and she has one of her bartenders come up with a drink that we’re doing,” she said.

And while Nota Bene’s kitchen team is busy making pies, the monthly specials guests will be behind the bar sharing stories.

“They can come and talk to Julia, talk to Dave, talk to me, see what Pizza Club is about,” she said.

DeRoche has made the club even better by offering attendees an official Pizza Club punch card towards earning a free pizza. These punch cards will only be available during Pizza Club Sundays but are redeemable for punches and redemption during any visit.

Pizza Club kicks off this Sunday, Jan. 29 at Nota Bene from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at NotaBeneRVA.com. Check out the dates, and special guests below of upcoming Pizza Club events:

Feb. 26: Stephanie Ganz, The Apple Cart (Original Pizza Club)
April 30: - Tom Sullivan Ardent Ales Craft Brewery (Original Pizza Club) Sullivan will be brewing something special for this event.
May 28: Chef Johnny Maher and Drew Thomasson of The Rogue Gentlemen join for a pizza and bar takeover.
June 25: Nate Gutierrez of Don’t Look Back
July 30: Ben Burakoff Pizza 2000

Words by Amy David

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