Alcohol: Full Bar
Meals Served: Dinner, Lunch
- Price: $$
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Hours: Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 11:45-3 p.m.; Dinner: monday-thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. sunday 5-10pm
Spaghetti and meatballs at Little Nonna’s | Photo by Jason Varney
Ingrid Williams visits Little Nonna’s for the New York Times. The only flaw she finds is in the pricy wine list.
[O]n a chilly evening in November, I couldn’t resist the Sunday gravy. A heaping portion of “gravy” (marinara made with San Marzano tomatoes) and paccheri (the macaroni of the day) arrived on one platter, and on another were assorted meats — pork braciole, spicy fennel sausage, meatballs stuffed with fontina. Other memorable dishes deviated from the traditional tried and true, like bruschetta with roasted figs, Gorgonzola dolce, celery hearts and crunchy hazelnuts. And a standout pasta dish featured braised duck, pecorino and turnips atop chestnut ravioli stuffed with roasted heirloom squash.
Restaurant Report: Little Nonna’s in Philadelphia [New York Times]
Little Nonna’s [Foobooz]
Photo by Jason Varney.
On the first day, there were white tablecloths. People dressed for restaurants the way they did for Pan Am Stratocruisers, and entrées arrived beneath silver domes. On the second day, the kitchen came into the dining room, and the menus were written in chalk. People brought their own wine to dinner, and entrées didn’t arrive at all. Tapas came instead. On the third day, the servers changed into blue jeans. They stripped the lampshades off the lightbulbs, served drinks in mason jars, and pretended supper was happening in a barn. But it wasn’t until Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran opened Little Nonna’s that anyone thought to festoon an outdoor dining area with a laundry line.
I guess nothing says “Come to Granny” like old-timey aprons (illuminated by bare Edison bulbs strung from the rafters, natch) drooping above a patio lined with weather-beaten wood.
Just when you think the march of comfort dining has run out of striding room, it steps into Even More Casual Alley. It’s only a matter of time before some restaurateur plunks a bucket of potatoes in the middle of the dining room with an old man in a V-neck undershirt to peel them. Until then, Turney and Safran’s homage to the ghosts of Philly’s red-gravy past stands at the forefront of the flight from the cutting edge.
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A table spread at Marie Turney and Valerie Safran’s enchanting Little Nonna’s, which gets our prize for Best New Gayborhood Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Jason Varney.
GAYBORHOOD RESTAURANT: Amis
You don’t have to spend the mortgage at Marc Vetri’s eponymous townhouse to get that delicious Vetri Italian cooking. This exposed-brick, slightly industrial-feeling space has food that will simply knock your socks off, including our fave, the addictive tonnarelli. Sit at the counter, sip some very good wine, and watch the masters do their thing. 412 S. 13th St., 215-732-2647, amisphilly.com.
NEW GAYBORHOOD RESTAURANT: Little Nonna’s
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s latest is a step back in time to the cozy kitchen of some little Italian granny—one who wants to put some meat on those bones. Loosen your belt and dive head first into the homemade meatballs sopped in “Sunday gravy” and a plate of the fluffiest gnocchi this side of Trastevere. 1234 Locust St., 215-546-2100, littlenonnas.com.
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