Dishes To Die For: octopus salad, "The Nonna" pizza
Splat! went the flat end of a chef's knife, crushing an ear of garlic. This was the first step in composing the exquisite grilled octopus salad at Casa Nonna. Next, the greens, the sundried tomatoes, and carefully sliced charred tentacles. At the end, Oraniz gently adjusted the elements with the back end of a fork, coaxing them into position. Such care and expertise!
This close up view of appetizers being prepared is what you get sitting up at the counter of the pizza ovens at this still fairly new Italian. The octopus salad is my dish to die for here, but sitting at the counter is also a feast for the eyes. The flash and flare of 800 degree pizza ovens against burnished copper and enameled tile. The delicacy of Oraniz' compositions and the masterfulness of Ishmael parrying and thrusting into the flames. Also the curve of the bar, inviting guests to take a seat. (Be warned though: it's hot! Come dressed in layers that can be peeled off once you are in this haven from the February chill.)
But that's not all. You can also have Casa Nonna in your casa: the entire dinner menu is available for delivery. We had the "Nonna" pizza: zucchini flowers, fried egg, tomato and mozzarella. This was extraordinary: a thin crust pizza with fresh ingredients that do not cower under a blanket of cheese. The zucchini flowers were sensational, augmented by basil scented olive oil. I had felt ambivalent about the fried eggs, but they were tiny and delicate, runny yolks blending with the basil scent in a way I could never have predicted. Oooh. We also sampled the eggplant parmigiana -- up there with the best home made parmigiana I have tasted -- and meatballs in tomato sauce, which Chris declared to be close to what her own Italian nonna made. I have to admit, I was almost brought to tears by them too.
So, we are two for two with Casa Nonna, and looking forward to more winning meals.
Photo credits: Chris Svoboda