Come hungry, leave happy. That’s the motto of Nonna and I and what any Italian would expect from a traditional meal cooked by their beloved Nonna. This restaurant, situated on a side street off the Parade in Norwood, makes you feel like you are dining in the Italian countryside. You can expect to be greeted by friendly staff and an occasional visit from the very smiley Chef Khalil who will make you feel welcomed like no other.
It is clear from Chef Khalil’s food and demeanor that he is passionate about what he does. He has experience working in Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy and has spent over 7 years learning tips and tricks from Nonnas in Little Italy. His childhood dream was to open his own restaurant and he is now living this dream with this little gem Nonna and I.
Our first taste of Nonna and I came with a cute plate of Bruschetta. I love Bruschetta and this rendition was so tasty. The tomatoes and onions were dressed in the perfect amount of olive oil and topped off with plenty of Parmesan and parsley. It really set the scene for the dishes that were to come.
Next we sampled fresh mozzarella with tomato and roasted capsicums. The combination of the fresh roasted capsicum and mozzarella was incredible and while the mozzarella with tomato was great as well, nothing could beat those capsicums. The capsicums were incredibly sweet and the mozzarella was unbelievably creamy. Tied with the mixture of oil and balsamic it was such a simple dish but so tasty.
These Steamed Clams, otherwise known as Vongole, were served in a simple butter herb sauce. The clams themselves were juicy and tasted of the sea. This dish is best eaten with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce. It was full of so much flavour and a definite winner for any seafood lover.
You cannot have an Italian meal without garlic bread, and Nonna and I’s was perfect. Crispy and soaked in garlic butter, I was in heaven. It was also perfect dipped into the balsamic oil left over from the mozzarella and capsicums. You cannot get any better than that in my opinion and it screams Italian home cooking just like I’m used to at my own house and cooked by my own Nonna.
Our first pasta dish was Linguine Puttanesca, which was Napoletana sauce with capers, black olives and anchovies. Not being a fan of anchovies myself I don’t usually order Puttanesca, but this was a knock out! The pasta was clearly freshly made and cooked perfectly – al dente! There is nothing worse than overcooked pasta but this was impeccable. The sauce was juicy, well seasoned and full of flavour. There was also plenty of it, which is what you want with any good pasta dish. It was definitely the best Puttanesca I have tried. The portion size was also very generous and was basically a ten out of ten.
The other pasta dish we ordered was Penne a la Salmon. This was smoked salmon in a traditional Alfredo cream sauce. Again, simple but delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and the salmon flavour was tasted throughout the dish. I also felt that this dish was light and not too heavy unlike other cream sauce pastas I have eaten previously. It was so tasty and after drowning it in Parmesan cheese it was thoroughly enjoyed.
The Eggplant Rollatini was eggplant rolled in ricotta and feta and served with a Napoletana sauce and lots of melted mozzarella. This was hands down my favourite dish. And I am obsessed with pasta so this is rare for me, but this eggplant was nothing short of amazing. The amount of flavour in this dish was incredible and every mouthful was even better than the last.
There is no dessert menu at Nonna and I but Chef Khalil has special home made desserts on offer by request. We sampled the most popular options – Tiramisu and Crème Caramel. Being at an Italian restaurant I expected a Tiramisu and was looking forward to try their interpretation. It was so delicious! I’m not one to like Tiramisu which is soaked in too much coffee, but this one had the perfect balance of everything. I loved it.
The next dessert was Crème Caramel. Not a typical Italian dessert but always a favourite of mine. This was probably the best Crème Caramel I have ever had. It was so unbelievably creamy and set perfectly. The caramel was not too sweet and had such a great flavour. I was so happy with this dessert and it definitely left a smile on my face and was the perfect end to such an amazing meal.
Nonna and I just goes to show that simple food is always best. Each of these dishes were based on a few main ingredients but executed perfectly and it truly felt like home cooking from Nonna. This is honestly the most authentic Italian meal I have had in Adelaide which is a testament to Chef Khalil and his wonderful cooking abilities. Nonna and I’s motto of ‘Come hungry, leave happy’ sums up this restaurant perfectly. We came hungry, and we left happy. A 10 out of 10 from me!
Words by Angela Scarfo from All About That Food
WHERE: 1A Margaret St, Norwood