Sunday, May 29, 2016

Southbound to Nonna's Pasta & Pizzeria

Hand-pulled pasta, a classic Neapolitan-style pizza fresh out of a brick oven...

...all prepared in the old-fashioned way. At Nonna's, things are kept pretty simple. With all their signature dishes made from scratch with the freshest and finest ingredients, you can expect real flavors the way it was meant to be, and it's as simple as that. Head south for some classic pizza and Nonna's.

David and Crystal Sison (L), the young couple behind Mama Lou's (see my other post on Mama Lou's here), takes their passion for authentic and rustic pizza and pasta to a whole new level at Nonna's. With a semi-open kitchen lay-out, diners get a glimpse of the action for a preview of Nonna's tasty offerings. 

At Nonna's, everything is made from scratch using the finest and freshest ingredients, including hand-pulled pasta made fresh everyday (L). The feel, texture, and flavor of freshly made pasta (R) versus the usual dried pasta is like night and day, and when paired with the freshest ingredients, it becomes more than just another pasta dish...

And just like Nonna's pasta, you can expect the same level of passion and commitment with their Neapolitan-style pizza. From the type of wheat flour used for the dough, all kneaded by hand, to the brick ovens, down to the charred spots on the crust, there are no short cuts at Nonna's. It's all about keeping things real. Just the way it should be...

Down south, the best local produce is always nearby, and leave it to Nonna's to create inventive dishes like the Mushroom Chicharon (P 160), fresh oyster mushrooms delicately breaded and deep-fried for a light crispness, served with a sharp vinaigrette. The subtle earthy and nutty notes of the oyster mushrooms come through, kicked up by the vinaigrette, making this one of the must-try dishes at Nonna's. And that's just for starters...

Then, Nonna's signature pizzas were served, fresh from the brick ovens. At Nonna's, Italian doppio zero "00" flour is used for the pizza dough with fresh yeast before going through a 24-hour rising process, hand-kneaded and baked in the brick oven for that classic Neapolitan-style crust. You can go traditional, with Nonna's Margherita, Tutti Formaggi, Napoli, or Funghi Trifolati, or be adventurous with Nonna's playfully inventive variants. Like the Kimchi Pizza (P 395), with pomodoro, mozzarella, kimchi, home-made Korean sausage, sesame seeds, and scallions topped with a soy glaze on a rustic crust. The kimchi and sweet soy glaze give it a pronounced and distinct Korean flavor, with the creamy hints of the mozzarella and tart notes of the pomodoro pairing well with the Korean ingredients combining for an east-west connection that works. And the Neapolitan-style crust, with its characteristic charred spots around the crust, is the perfect base for this fusion of rich flavors.

But Nonna's has even more surprises. Nonna's recreates the rich flavors of clam chowder with another inventive creation, the Clam Pie (P 425), with creamy clam sauce, clam meat, bacon, chili flakes, and parsley. The rustic and chewy crust absorbs the rich notes of the clam sauce, with the clam meat and bacon replicating the familiar flavors of clam chowder, reinvented in a unique pizza. The richness of the clam sauce is tempered by the soothing layer of heat from the chili flakes for balanced flavors. And here's a cool tip, drizzle just a little honey and chili oil for even more flavors. And add even more honey on the crust. This one's a personal favorite.

Traditional flavors come alive with Nonna's Prosciutto Arugula (P 450), with pomodoro, mozzarella, parmesan, and prosciutto topped with fresh arugula on a Neapolitan crust. The sharp notes of the prosciutto blend seamlessly with the tart pomodoro and creamy mozzarella, capped by the sharp hints of parmesan and minty arugula. Real flavors prepared the traditional way, perfectly executed by Nonna's.

Nonna's signature hand-pulled pasta is then showcased in a wide variety of dishes, starting with the Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle (P 285), with portobello and button mushrooms, chili, tomato, parsley and olive oil. The soft yet firm and chewy texture of the hand-pulled tagliatelle gives this hearty dish the depth, body and richness that separates it from the usual pasta dishes. The earthy mushrooms and nutty notes of the olive oil are complemented by the tart tomatoes and mild heat from the chili, delivering a rich blend of flavors with each bite.

A simple yet well made plate of Gnocchi can be hard to find even in the metro, but you can always find it down south at Nonna's. The Gnocchi (P 275), a comforting soft dough dumpling made with potatoes and semolina, served with butter sage or blue cheese sauce, just makes any day so much better. Soft and chewy, the gnocchi is, by far, Nonna's purest definition of comfort food. Draped in rich butter sage (or blue cheese sauce if you prefer), it just doesn't get any better than that.

The creamy notes of premium fresh salmon and indulgent caviar come together with Nonna's Salmon Caviar Pasta (P 350), with smoked salmon, chives and caviar in Alfredo sauce. The salmon and Alfredo sauce combine for a richness like no other, kicked up even more by the chives and caviar. And the hand-pulled pasta, with its distinct texture, caps the dish.

A mac & cheese works for me any day, and Nonna's Truffle Mac & Cheese (P 285), a comforting pasta dish with truffle cream, takes it even further. The chewy macaroni covered in cheese gets a flavorful upgrade with the infusion of truffles. And trust me, it's hard to put your fork down after the first bite.

Nonna's gets creative with their next pasta dish, the Vesuvio (P 495), Nonna's homage to the iconic volcano in the Gulf of Naples, recreated in a delicately stacked mountain of rigatoni stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, peas, Italian meatballs and egg. Gently pick out a piece of rigatoni and let the mozzarella and ricotta ooze down like a lava flow. Elegantly presented, and the flavors are equally bold and rich, a fitting tribute to Mount Vesuvius.

Nonna's Insalata Caprese (P 225, L), a refreshing salad with cherry tomatoes, carabao's milk kesong puti, basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze adds vibrant flavors to your feast; or go all-out with the Truffle Mushroom Ravioli (P 350, R), with portbello, oyster, and button mushrooms, ricotta, chives, parmesan and truffle cream.  

And here's the beef. The Steak alla Nonna (P 695), a perfectly grilled tenderloin steak topped with sauteed mushrooms, should satisfy any serious beef craving. The rich beefy flavors of the tender and juicy steak are enhanced by the fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes and olive oil. Each bite delivers a series of distinct notes, from the savory beefy notes followed by the olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes and finished by the arugula. This one's another favorite.

And don't pass up dessert at Nonna's. Seriously. The Pizzaockie (P 225), a moist cookie fresh out of the oven topped with ice cream and mallows caps your feast at Nonna's on a sweet note. The warm and moist cookie is almost like cookie dough, blending perfectly with the toasted marshmallows, and finished by the velvety smooth ice cream and caramel sauce. Put this on your list too when you head down south. From starters, pizza, pasta, salads, savory mains and desserts, it's all the reasons you need to venture south. Looking for real flavors made the old-fashioned way, just the way it should be, drive south and all roads lead to Nonna's...

Nonna's Pasta & Pizzeria is located at the Ground Floor, Building G, Solenad 3, Nuvali, Don Jose, Santa Rosa or call +63949-889-8959 for inquiries.

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