Minus the net curtains and swathes of crochet, one new restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy promises to transport you to the warmth of your grandmother’s house.
Located in the heart of the bustling strip of bars and eateries, Nonna (meaning grandmother in Italian) welcomes you in with warm lighting and laid back furnishings.
On a Friday night the place was pretty packed come 7pm and a waitress kindly revealed that there was a terrace in the back, which was much quieter.
We found a table nestled in one corner and our very friendly waiter from Milan came to run us through the menu.
Like its long-time sister restaurant, Barbusa, family-run Nonna serves up Sicilian-inspired dishes but this place is all about proper old-school comfort food.
Think hearty portion-sizes, warming sauces and hand-me-down recipes.
To start we opted for a classic caprese dish and a rucola topped with shavings of parmesan, sprinkles of pine nuts and wedges of avocado.
The caprese was on point, with creamy buratta calling our forks back for more. Our waiter explained that as it’s tricky to get super fresh basil, Nonna’s caprese is finished with a smearing of pesto.
The combination worked perfectly and the accompanying rucola salad hit the right notes too.
We were informed that Sicilian wines aren’t the best so we opted for a deliciously-warming full and medium bodied Tuscan red.
Some homemade focaccia was also put before us. It was a little different to the usual fluffy bread but had a nice garlicy topping and a little olive oil helped moisten it up.
With our starter plates wiped clean, our mains arrived in timely succession.
For mains we went for a black squid ink pasta topped with seafood and a vodka-infused sauce.
This was accompanied by a family recipe – the ‘gamberi Busalacchi’ – which consisted of lemon juice, capers and a mountain of mushrooms marinated in a creamy white wine sauce.
As we worked our way through dinner we were steadily transported from San Diego to a dreamy Sicilian haze.
The menu instructs diners to ‘sit back, relax, tell stories, drink, and enjoy the food that we all grew up on’ and were happily obeying these orders.
After grazing through our mains, the waiter returned and to his delight, we decided to round things off in true Italian style with a portion of tiramisu.
A large wedge of cream and sponge layered cake sailed our way, with a red and green macaron on each side forming the colours of the Italian flag.
The tiramisu was lovely and creamy and keeping to the traditional recipe, it was made minus alcohol.
After feeling pretty defeated by grandmother’s cooking it was time to leave the comfort of Italy behind.
Walking back through the main restaurant it was buzzing with large groups of diners getting into the Sicilian swing of things.
Granny’s cooking has certainly stood the test of time and Nonna is a testament to this.
Nonna is located at 1731 India St San Diego, California
To book a table visit nonnasd.com or call (619) 531-1731