Ok. Last birthday celebration. Promise. And this one was on the parents who came down to celebrate my birthday, which was basically a good excuse for us all to get together and go out for a meal.
As you know, I love going out for food, but if there’s a few of us and I’m making the decision as to where to go, I do get a bit anxious. For this get together I had either Nonna’s or the London Club (Blog Update – The London Club closed some time ago) in mind. Nonna’s won in the end, simply because I thought my parents, who are not huge steak lovers, wouldn’t really be bothered about a steak restaurant.
So Nonna’s it was. Now, anyone who reads Sheffield Forum will have read many off reviews about this place. Some say the customer service is bad, others say that it’s full of posers.
Two things. I do not consider myself a poser and I’ve never had bad customer service at Nonna’s. Admittedly I have only eaten there a couple of times before but I have been for drinks too. Looking at Nonna’s Facebook page, you can tell that they really are passionate about Italian food, and drink. Indeed, on one visit we were given a lesson in the art of making a good Venetian Spritz. To label this place as nothing more than somewhere for posers is wrong.
On arrival we were quickly seated, but unfortunately we were seated by the toilets, which grew more and more annoying throughout the meal. I guess that’s the perils of going to a popular restaurant on a busy Sunday afternoon. Anyhoo, whilst perusing, we were offered bread and olives to snack on and thankfully we accepted these as it took us a while to decide what we wanted. The wine was pretty easy to pick. My husband, Gavin, and I have been drinking quite a bit of primitivo lately so we went for a bottle of Primaterra Primitivo which was rather nice. The wine glasses are large and quite unusually shaped and I remarked that I liked them to the waitress. She confirmed that they sold them next door in their deli. My husband later confirmed that they are £40 for four meaning that I may have to wait a while before I can acquire my own set. The wine however, had been acquired, and was good.
Noticing that everyone was struggling to decide what to have for starters, I suggested the Antipasto Della Casa, a selection of meats, cheeses and roasted vegetables. I assumed, as the menu stated that the dish was £5.50 per person, that everything would be have been served on one large plate for us all to pick from but it was actually served individually on little wooden boards, which probably worked out better as there was a decent selection for each of us. The meats included salame and prosciutto. There was also a very spicy meat which was a bit of a shock to each of us as it was really quite hot, although enjoyable! There were two cheeses. One was a bit like Wensleydale (but I’m sure it wasn’t actually Wensleydale as the cheeses were described as Artisan Italian cheeses), the other was a hard cheese and I’m not sure what it was. Man, I need to learn more about Italian cheese!! Roasted vegetables were aubergine, courgette and mushroom and were a nice fresh touch to the plate. I enjoyed it and everyone else seemed to too. They were quite decent servings and I think one, with some olives and bread, would also make a perfect light lunch.
|antipasto della casa|
Instead of tucking into the antipasti with us Gavin had gone for something different; the Coda di Bue which was slow-braised oxtail. I had a taste and the oxtail was perfectly tender and served in a rich gravy sauce with bread.
|coda di bue|
For mains, we all tried different dishes. I had one of the specials; flank of beef stew with cannelloni beans, rosemary and garlic. It was quite a large flank of beef, sliced and spread over a stew of cannelloni beans. was pleased when it arrived as the beef was cooked rare and there was a reasonable amount of it. Ok, so the flank isn’t the most tender of cuts, but this was tasty. The stew was full of beans and nicely packed with garlic, although it was a little salty for my own taste. All in all I was happy with my choice, as was my dad it seemed, as he was more than happy to take some of the beef from me when I started to fill up.
|flank of beef stew|
My dad actually needed the beef. For some reason he had ordered a salad. My dad is no small man and I’m pretty sure he ain’t on a diet, so the salad choice was a bizarre one. Having said that he seemed happy enough. He had the Insalata Zucca, a salad of butternut squash and pumpkin seeds.
Gavin had tagliatelle salsiccia; tagliatelle with a sauce of 8 hour slow cooked sausage, tomato, red wine and chiili. I had a little and it was nice and rich. My mum had lasagne which is made to Nonna’s own recipe (once secret, but now published in their own cook book) which she enjoyed and finished, despite it being a large portion, and quite rich.
My brother had the fegato, pan-fried calf’s liver with sage and balsamic vinegar served with braised cabbage. It didn’t look particularly appetising, but he cleared his plate. I had hoped that he would have offered me a taste as I had almost gone for it myself, but he didn’t. Pfft.
We also had patate (potatoes cooked with gorgonzola cream) and rucola (rocket and parmesan salad) as side orders which were good. Plates emptied, we decided to have dessert. Unfortunately, despite the fact that service had been quite quick to start (we had been asked whether we were ready to order a couple of times), it had now slowed and we had to attract a waiter’s attention to order again. We were eating quite late (about 2.30) and tables were being set up for the evening, but it’s a shame that we seemed to have been forgotten towards the latter half of our meal.
For desserts I had the spiced fruit semifreddo which was a slab of semi frozen ice cream and dried fruits. The caramelised oranges served with it were a bit sharp for me, but the semifreddo itself was good.
My dad had gelati misti which was quite a large selection of ice cream. Gavin had white chocolate and saffron pannacotta. He is quite a fan of panacotta, and said that the texture was very good, and the dish was tasty. My mum had tiramisu and passed little if no comment, so no complaints there. My brother had cioccolato which he wolfed down in about 2 minutes, so I’d take that as a good sign! We decided not to have coffee and we struggled to grab a waiter for the bill, and then again to pay the bill.
Throughout the meal we were served by a few waiters and waitresses, all of whom were friendly and chatty, but it was a real shame that we were forgotten towards the end of the meal. The slack service and the fact that we were sat next to the toilets were the only two annoyances.
Would I go again then? Yes. Up to now we had fully enjoyed informal, quick lunches/bunches and drinks there and maybe that’s what we should stick to when eating in the day. The next time I fancy the full shebang at Nonna’s, I’ll go in the evening.
What about you? What do you think about Nonna’s? Do you have any favourite Italian restaurants?