Initially, the high ceilings are dark, even intimidating, but the host's welcoming greeting from just beyond the bar creates an immediate sense of comfort and community. Light streams through the large monogrammed windows, casting brilliance onto the earth tones and rustic details, as well as the clean table settings.
La Nonna Ristorante and Bar is the second Brooklyn restaurant run by Chef Morena and wife Anna-- a step up from the quick pizzas and pastas of La Nonna Pizzeria Trattoria Paninoteca. The evolving menu consists of antipasti and salads, embellished housemade pastas, hearty carne and pesce second courses, and daily specials and variations, alongside a well-rounded wine list. La Nonna mixes traditional Italian, which demonstrates Morena’s simple roots, with intricate flavors displaying his innovation. The diversity, breadth and charm of the menu makes everyone feel at home.
a popular appetizer from its sister restaurant, the tower of fried breaded
eggplant layered with plump tomatoes and fresh mozzarella is tested at La
Nonna. It is topped with spicy arugula, salty parmesan and a drizzle of sweet
balsamic. The crunchy eggplant pairs with the cheese and earthy arugula and
tomato for classic flavors and feelings.
Three beautiful and vibrant Blue Point oysters line the slender plate, brimming with creamy spinach, crunchy breadcrumbs and parmesan. Each bring salty and earthy flavors and moments of texture from the chewy oyster to the crisp crumbs and smooth spinach, encapsulating comfort.
Negative space enhances the aesthetics of the solitary line of the delicate octopus appetizer. Purple octopus and its bed of sliced fennel, red onion, and plump golden tomatoes divide the plate, only surrounded by dark dots of balsamic. The warm octopus is tender with a charred smoky afterthought, while the other cooler elements feel fresh and the herbs make it like a summer breeze.
Pillowy gnocchi float in just enough familiar red sauce, chunky with tomatoes, onions and garlic. The sauce is readable, its roots apparent. It is soft and buttery, smooth playing to the consistency of the polenta dumplings. Salty mozzarella bonds with the sauce, stretching and sticking to each gnocchi while the green arugula adds bite.
The six sachetti, draped in a rich brandy cream sauce, are filled with pureed chestnut and mascarpone. Bright cilantro and jeweled pomegranate seeds flirt with the heaviness of the sauce and intensity of the studded filling. Ambitious layering of flavors and textures reveal a complexity different from other dishes, showing Morena’s inventive spirit.
The homemade multilayer dessert looks to the decadence of nutella, coffee, and chocolate and the lightness of lady fingers and whipped cream. A mixture of tiramisu, dry chocolaty Italian cookies, nutty nutella and a sweet whipped cream with just enough of each consistency and taste to blend to sumptuous sweetness. The lusted after pistachio crème brulee is a bright green custard, smooth and sweet, with the bite of caramelized sugar from the crunchy shell and meaty roasted pistachios-- a twist on the beloved classic.
La Nonna is a little bit of home, a meeting of regulars and new comers, where everyone is treated with warmth and respect. Even with the high ceilings, pristine tables and refined rustic décor, the large space is cozy and welcoming, just like the luscious foods and wines brought to the table. Chef Morena's delicious offerings warm from the inside and Anna's hospitality recalls those intimate meals cooked by Grandma—La Nonna.
La Nonna Ristorante & Bar
184 Kent Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11249
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food for thought...