Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Nonni Osteria-amazing all around experience

The first review of a restaurant I posted on my blog was of a restaurant I would not go back to.

My second review will be the exact opposite...I cannot wait to revisit I Nonni.  The whole dining experience was amazing and the food was spectacular.

The website for I Nonni describes it as Roman inspired seasonal cuisine with European service and ambiance, in a setting of comfort and old-world charm.  What a perfect way to sum it up!  The restaurant was beautifully decorated.  The ceilings were high with cathedral trusses.  The colors were warm and welcoming.  The light fixtures were glass in red, yellow, and orange.  The wall sconces had the look of flickering torches with how the colors were blown and used throughout the glass. 

We had one drink at the bar.  The bartender was knowledgeable about the wine selections.  She also gave a detailed description of the cocktails that were on the menu.  I had a cocktail made with prosecco (sparkling wine), grapefruit liqueur with a sugar cube at the bottom soaked with bitters.  Topped with a lemon twist served in a champagne glass, it was a beautiful drink with a citrus scent.

The menu was broken down into 4 parts.  Asseggini (a selection of first courses), Antipasti (appetizers), Primi (first course) and Secondi (second course).  We ordered the Cacciucco, Rucola, Osso Bucco and the Spaghetti Nero.  We asked our server to recommend wines paired to what we had ordered, and she was right on the mark. 

The Cacciucco was a seafood stew in a tomato broth.  The seafood included clams, mussels, shrimp, squid and octopus.  The broth alone was amazing, full of tomato, wine and a hint of heat.  The portion was large, enough that it could be a complete meal, not just a starter.  This photo is from the I Nonni website.

Rucola was a salad of micro arugula, wrapped with prosciutto, topped with a slice of Gorgonzola cheese.  Included in the salad were thin slices of apple, walnuts, and topped with a bacon vinaigrette dressing.  Here is a photo from the I Nonni site of how it is plated...presentation was beautiful.  My salad was slightly different than the one pictured, since I had micro arugula and Gorgonzola and this is spring greens with peppers and Parmesan.

Spaghetti Nero was a squid ink pasta, making it black in color.  The tomato sauce was spicy, but not overpowering.  The waitress warned me when I ordered that it might be hot.  I like spicy food, but I could see it being a little spicy for the 'typical Minnesotan' palette.  It may have been spicier than usual because I did ask the waitress not to tone it down :-)  I still could taste the flavor of the pasta and a hint of the tomato.  It was topped with baby octopus which were extremely tender.  This is our photo, a little dark since we did not want to blind the entire restaurant taking photos.

We have had Osso Bucco before, but this one was the best by far.  The meat on the shank was fall off the bone tender, the perfect mix of meat and fat.  It was plated on a saffron risotto that was creamy while still having the perfect bite to the rice.  The reduction on top of it all pulled it all together.  With Osso Bucco, you are given a small spoon, smaller than a teaspoon, with the purpose being to scoop the marrow out of the bone.  If you have not tried this, it is a delicacy.  The description I gave our kids was it has the consistency of jelly, with the flavor of slow cooked meat.  This particular shank had no shortage of marrow.  Here is the photo before we devoured it-the green at the top is where you started into the marrow-it's a parsley herb combination.  That section was the bone, the surrounding is the meat.  Again, our photo, colors are just a little off.

After all of that, there was no room for dessert.  Their dessert menu looked amazing, with variety to choose from including fruit, hazelnut, chocolate, cake, gelato or sorbet. will have to wait for another visit.

We can't wait to go again.  We said the next time it would be fun to have a wine with a few appetizers and dessert.  The atmosphere is such that having just a few things and lingering over them would make for a perfectly relaxed night out.

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