While Casa Nonna has been open for a little over a year, we made our first visit to the Southern Italian restaurant just last weekend.
After some cocktails and appetizers at nearby Vento, we ventured over to the restaurant around 8:30pm and had no problems procuring a table for four. I was kind of surprised we were seated so soon given that it was a Friday evening and footsteps from the Dupont Metro, but then again, the space is huge as it used to hold a California Pizza Kitchen.
Our waiter soon came over and dropped off a basket of cheesy flatbread while we glanced over the menu. It’s a shame we had not dined at Casa Nonna during their initial family-style format (which was scraped just months later) just to compare and contrast their current a la carte offering.
Offering a selection of antipasti, homemade pastas, Neapolitan pizzas, as well as chicken, beef, and seafood entrees, one has plenty to choose from. In fact, it was almost daunting at times as they offered a multitude of items under each category. Our waiter had mentioned that they were debuting their new fall menu that day, so we couldn’t wait to try out some of their recommended dishes.
We decided to start off the evening by sharing a plate of their braised miniature meatballs. Sitting in a bowl of rich tomato sauce, the meatballs, which were comprised of beef, veal, and pork, were rather good. I’m still partial to the ones found at Olazzo, but given that the bowl was wiped clean in a matter of minutes, our table didn’t have any qualms with these.
As for our entrees, I ordered the Bigoli Con Vongole e Salsiccia. The housemade bigoli, otherwise knows as “fat spaghetti”, was served with cockle clams, crumbled sausage, and hot pepper. Blended with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did feel, however, that the portion was just slightly undersized for the price ($21). That’s not to say there wasn’t a fair share of clams included, but it wouldn’t have hurt to include a little more pasta and sausage to the dish.
Rachel got the pumpkin gnocchi with sage butter and shaved parmesan. These dumplings were so rich with pumpkin flavor that they, as Rob Lowe’s character would say on Parks and Recreation, literally melted in your mouth. It was delicious and tasted so decadent that she couldn’t finish it all, and I certainly enjoyed whatever bites I had as well.
We were too full for dessert, but our friends Mike and Randi decided to order a cannoli to-go. When the waiter came back with the container, packed inside were not one but three mini cannolis! They insisted we take one, and since I’m one to never turn down food, we obliged.
Drizzled with chocolate sauce, the dessert featured a touch of pistachio which was different than your typical Italian cannoli. Not to bring up Olazzo a second time, but Casa Nonna’s were just all right.
Overall, we had a very pleasant experience at Casa Nonna. I think the two of us felt it was slightly overpriced for what you received, but at least all of their plates feature homemade pasta. The pizza appears to be a better value given the size, but I’m still kicking myself for missing out on their Monday night endless spaghetti and meatball promotion (which was discontinued earlier this year). That would have been trouble.