I met up with That Sara the other night for a mid-week dinner-yay! We went to a restaurant that is crazy close to her house: Casa Nonna, a dark, expansive, sprawling restaurant with low lighting and interesting decor (rows of plain white plates on one wall, brass buckets on another, and ceramic rain boot sculptures under a table--just a few things we spotted there that night).
They bring out their housemade bread, a chewy, tasty focaccia with fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes and chewy pockets of what I think was cheese (whatever it was, it was delicious!) Our server brought out a pepper-free version for Sara, who's allergic to all types of peppers.
Even with the fresh rosemary (which I can only take in small doses or I feel like I'm eating a pine tree), I devoured way too much of this. Chewy, salty, tangy, and crispy with a lovely kick of heat? Yes, please.
I ordered a quartino (about 2 small glasses for $16) of their Barbera d'Alba after my first choice, the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, was gone. This was perfect. Spicy, fruity, and a great match to everything I ate.
We were pretty hungry but saving room for dessert, so we skipped the apps and went straight for entrées. Sara got the spinach ribbons with roasted mushrooms. This was fantastic--earthy, well-seasoned, and the spinach flavor really came through in the fresh noodles.
I ordered the pici, or twisted strands, with the pork and beef ragu. The sauce was very good, but the noodles were a bit chewier than I expected. Sara's dish was much better, but mine was still tasty and did the job. I'd get hers next time if I had to choose between the two.
On the house-- 2 mini meringues covered in the most delicious chocolate. The meringues were a bit crunchy, which skeeves me out texture-wise (along with malted milk balls and nails screeching down a chalkboard), but the chocolate was so good that I mostly ignored the texture. For dessert we shared the bomboloni, which are small doughnut holes soaked in limoncello syrup. Delicious! Not as heavy as I expected, and the limoncello syrup and candied orange strips were the perfect accompaniment. This was just enough to share without leaving me feel stuffed.
It's not cheap, with most entrées being over 20 dollars, but the food is well-made and it's a nice, relaxed atmosphere. I wouldn't go out of my way just yet (though I will try it again), but if you're looking for a decent meal in midtown and want to avoid Times Square or Penn Station, this is perfectly in the middle and perfectly tasty.
310 W. 38th St. (8th Ave.)
New York, NY 10018