Friday, November 7, 2014

Little Nonna's Review

This is part of a series of posts related to Chef Marcie Turney including: VerdeLolitathe Midtown Village FestivalJamoneraLittle Nonna's, and Barbuzzo.

Opening in the fall of last year, Little Nonna's was definitely one of the restaurants I had my sights set on. Comfort Italian food like Nonna used to make (assuming my Korean grandmother was Italian)? It's clear that Midtown Village was excited for another of Chef Turney's offerings.

So when one of our friends came to town, we had to stop by to try most of the menu! The atmosphere is definitely on point - you've got walls lined china and shelves that are stacked with teapots and knick knacks. But on to the food and drink!

Pinot Grigio [$10]
Zenato, Veneto, '12 

Our friend started off with a glass of pinto grigio - easy drinking. 

Sgroppino [$10]
Blood orange basil sorbet, vodka, prosecco

If you're not in the mood for wine, but want something that's similarly easy to imbibe, go with this tipple. Sweet undertones and the tart essence of blood orange belie the vodka, with the prosecco providing some effervescence. 

Negroni [$10]
Gin, campari, sweet vermouth

I went with the negroni and I'm glad I did. Simple yet smooth, this was served in a mason jar. 

Roasted Pear & Beets [$10]
Sheep's milk ricotta, walnut pesto, baby kale, mustard greens

We started off with the ubiquitous beet salad, with the roasted pear providing additionally sweet accents. The mustard greens and pesto provided some pop. The ricotta was creamy and helped to bring this all together.

Negroni Glazed Lamb Ribs [$12]
Hazelnut-almond romesco, vinegar peppers, orange 

One of the standout dishes of the night and a clear customer favorite were the lamb ribs. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, with the negroni glaze offering some subtly sweet tastes. The vinegar peppers and orange helped to give each bite some acidity. 

Wild Mushroom Arancini [$8]
Crispy risotto balls, buffalo mozzarella, truffle aioli 

One of the GF's favorites had to be ordered. The rice balls were certainly crispy on the outside and the creamy blend within was nice with al dente rice studded throughout. 

And while the truffle didn't come through at all, the buffalo mozzarella helped to bring additional smoothness to each bite.  

Roasted Fig Bruschetta [$9]
Gorgonzola dolce, celery hearts & leaves, hazelnuts

I love me some gorgonzola dolce so had to order these bruschetta. Whole roasted figs were littered atop the bread, along with celery hearts and leaves. This complemented the sweet, funky essence of the cheese nicely. However, the weight of the ingredients lent itself to a soggy undercarriage.

Eggplant Parmigiana [$11]
Japanese eggplant, mixed basil pesto, marinara, burrata

This offering of two strips of breaded Japanese eggplant were similar soggy, though the flavors of an eggplant caprese were there.

Heirloom Squash Ravioli [$16]
Wine soaked prunes, roasted almonds, sage brown butter, gorgonzola 

A special for the night was heirloom squash ravioli - which we couldn't pass up. Who can say no to brown butter sage sauce, especially when it's covering well-made ravioli filled with creamy squash. The roasted almonds offered texture and the gorgonzola gave some pop to each bite.

Potato Gnocchi [$14]
Wine soaked prunes, almond brown butter, sage, shaved gorgonzola 

The gnocchi came a bit later, though we were hoping for all of the pasta courses together. As expected, the gnocchi were pillowy and soft. However, the online menu noted an almond brown butter and what we were given was more of a tomato sauce. A bit confusing, but delicious nonetheless. Perhaps the online menu's ingredients were used in the special?

Veal Porterhouse [$26]
Crispy La Quercia prosciutto americano, marsala, sage, roasted sunchokes, grilled oyster mushroom wedge

And while I was particularly excited about the veal porterhouse, it was simply decent. It could have used a bit more seasoning, though it was cooked well. The crispy prosciutto was definitely needed for the salt. The mammoth grilled oyster mushroom wedge was nice though - moist, juicy, and tender. I would skip this and definitely go for the showstopper, which is ...

Sunday Gravy [$24]
Pork braciole: sharp B+V+P meatball, Fiorella Bros. hot fennel sausage, 4 hour san marzano marinara 

The Sunday Gravy. This meritage of roasted meats included tender pork shoulder, firm spicy sausages, and one huge beef/veal/pork meatball, all stewed with a 4-hour San Marzano marinara. It's topped with a forest of broccoli rabe - your Nonna wants you to have some greens, si? 


It's served alongside some flat and wide macaroni noodles - al dente and topped with more of that marinara and cheese. 

Garlic Bread [$5]
Roasted garlic butter, sea salt, Sarcone's seeded loaf

And how can you have Sunday Gravy without some bread? Unfortunately, the garlic bread is extra and even worse, it was a bit soggy on the bottom, though crisp on the top.

Hazelnut Cannoli [$9] 
Hazelnut ricotta, fudge, caramelized cocao nibs

For dessert, we decided to select two offerings. The cannoli were nice, with the hazelnut ricotta offering subtly sweet cream amidst the texture of caramelized cocoa nibs.

Water Ice [$6]
Blood orange-basil-olive oil 

Do try one of their water ice. We had the blood orange-basil-olive oil, which was creamy, tart, light, and sweet. A nice palate cleanser for all that we had.

With a name like Little Nonna's, you'd expect great service. I will say that it was efficient and a bit stoic - not exactly grandmotherly. Granted, this review is from a year ago so I'll have to check it out again soon (it's clear that some of my posts are really backed up!). Regardless, there are definitely some standout dishes that will make the denizens of Midtown Village happy - do get the Sunday Gravy and the lamb ribs! I highly doubt that anyone will be usurping Chef Turney's reign as the Queen of 13th Street anytime soon. 

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