La Nonna, the Italian grandmother's cooking style
Tucked away in Namly Place, just off Sixth Avenue is La Nonna, an Italian restaurant. La Nonna means ‘grandmother’ in Italian. I was very surprised to find this restaurant nestled amongst all the private houses in a laid back area. But the restaurant was full that weekday afternoon. This is a cosy restaurant with good food that is not expensive and the staffs are friendly and casual. In fact, the customers too seem to know each other. I found that this restaurant can put a person so ease, the moment you step in and this is so because of the very warm, unpretentious ambience. La Nonna has several outlets and is owned by Senso Holdings – the same people who own Spizza, La Villa and Senso restaurants.
We started with Gamberi, a sautéed prawns salad with orange slices and avocado. The orange slices and avocado was a good match for the grilled prawns. The fried calamari rings was served with Arrabiata Sauce. Though the calamari rings were a bit too soggy for my liking, the sauce made up for it – it was a wonderful, spicy tomato sauce, an excellent version that had a lot of flavor as well as heat. I realized that I will never leave an Italian restaurant without trying the Bruschetta. The La Nonna Bruschetta was served with tomatoes only, with black olive tapenade and with goat cheese and truffle. I liked the goat cheese and truffle bruschetta. I loved the smooth and creamy texture of the goat cheese spread onto slices of toasted bread with bits and pieces of shaved truffle.
I had this soup for the first time at the Fishermen’s wharf in San Francisco - the Ciuppino, a fish and seafood soup in tomato base with herbs and garlic bread croutons was a wonder and can fill you up. You must try this soup at La Nonna. The seafood in this thick soup was fresh and the garlic croutons gave that added texture but it also fills up your stomach. The Spaghetti allo Scoglio is a classic seafood pasta made with all sorts of crustaceans and shellfish and is supposed to be very popular during the festive occasions for the Italians. The sauce had a rich intense tomato flavor and tasted almost like the Ciuppino! We also tried the recommended Spinach Fettucine with Truffle. The fettucine was al dente and the truffle sauce perfect and perfectly luxurious combination. It was a little too rich and overpowering for me. Maybe it is because I had already had a good helping of the Scoglio pasta.
We were recommended to try the Roasted Lamb Rack served with vegetables ratatouille in brown sauce and we did. The grilled meat was chock full of good things like garlic and fresh herbs and tender and grilled just perfect. The vegetable ratatouille was a generous portion and the brown sauce did not match the really tasty lamb pieces. The highly recommended swordfish steak was served with traditional Italian vegetables and rosemary potatoes. The swordfish was firm and had a meaty texture and had a flavorful yet mild taste. The traditional vegetables were more of a ratatouille and the rosemary potatoes were aromatic and had a crisp outer and soft floury inside.
The La Nonna’s signature Pizza had a topping of tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, asparagus, black truffle and egg. If you like oozing egg yolk, this is the pizza to indulge but I had the cooked well. I was watching “No Reservations” on TV one day and noticed when Bourdain was on the farm in New Jersey, they were making a pizza with fresh cracked egg on the top. And that looked pretty damn tasty on the screen. But I preferred the cooked egg and this was equally scrumptious. The richness of the eggs were balanced nicely by the sweet tomatoes and the smoky flavor of truffles, and the thin crisp crust was tasty. The pizza was baked in modernised and woodfired oven
Dessert was an interesting Italian Lemon Tart. The tart had a light, flaky crust and the filling very sweet, buttery, tangy and irresistibly good! We also tried the White Chocolate Mousse served with Bacio ice cream. The food here is simple and unpretentious Italian fare. Service here is unhurried and slow.
76 Namly Place