Leave it to us here at Foobooz to take the first cool evening as an excuse to tuck in to some comfort food. Less than 80 degrees? Time for pasta! Truthfully, it didn’t take much since Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney’s newest gem, Little Nonna’s, opened on Wednesday night and we were eager to try it. Though our first visit was by no means comprehensive, we tasted some delicious things for you to look forward to as the weather cools.
Nonna’s is bottling cocktails – in cute little single servings – ahead of time so flavors have a chance blend and mellow. There’s a lot going on in the Amaro Y Dulce, which comprises citrus vodka, Campari, Aperol, grapefruit juice, lemon, and basil syrup, but it hits all the right bitter and sweet notes of an apertivo drink.
The Negroni–served in a jelly jar with a single cylinder of ice–is smooth and balanced. The Sgroppino, a prosecco cocktail amped up with a shot of vodka, is chilled Philly-style with a frozen ball of lemon and basil water ice.
There’s a lot to love here. One could easily make a meal out of the antipasti on offer alone. Nonna’s Roasted Fig Bruscetta tempers the fruit’s jammy sweetness with Gorgonzola, celery, and hazelnut.
Should you order the Head-on Shrimp Scampi with cannelini beans, arugula, tomato and lemon, be sure to order a side of grilled bread for sauce sopping.
B+V+P (beef, veal, pork) Meatballs appear twice, as an appetizer with polenta, or alongside spaghetti, with red gravy and parmesan. They’re big, yet tender, and stuffed with melty cubes of fontina, the red sauce slightly smoky.
An Escarole Salad lends crunch and pleasant bitterness, but walnuts, pear, and pecorino and “zesty Italian dressing” prevent it from being too virtuous.
There was no way we needed it but we couldn’t help ordering the Mushrooms & Polenta, a modestly-sized but plenty rich dish of taleggio polenta, topped with roasted hen of the woods and royal trumpet mushrooms and sage brown butter.
Desserts by pastry chef Sara May (most recently of the Franklin Fountain), are homey, with distinctly Italian flavor profiles. The Milk & Cookies is a twist on an egg cream made with Manhattan Special Espresso Soda and versions of the Italian cookies you know, but with more almond and less almond extract.
Oh Nonna. We can’t wait to come back for dinner at your house again soon.
Little Nonna’s [Official]