A Taste of Italy in Philadelphia
Nestled in a residential part of 13th Street at the intersection with Pine sits a cozy Italian restaurant called Little Nonna’s. Good Italian food is not hard to find in Philadelphia, especially along Christian Street, south of Center City and around the Italian Market. However, if you’re going to a show, Little Nonna’s is ideal, as it is within walking distance of Broad Street. Little Nonna’s serves up some amazing Italian comfort food, providing both the flavors we’ve come to expect in Italian cooking (basil, rosemary, sage . . .), along with the warmth and aroma of an Italian kitchen.
My father learned to cook from his Italian-born mother, and so I grew up in a house that was never short of pasta, polenta, herbs, and overflowing quarts of homemade tomato sauce. Walking into Little Nonna’s made me think of home. But then again, just about anyone walking into Little Nonna’s would feel at home. Maybe it’s the smell of herbs and roasted garlic, or maybe the little strings of lights that swoop from one end of the ceiling to another in a shining zigzag, or maybe the narrowness of the restaurant with its warm wooden sides of the restaurant. Regardless, Little Nonna’s is inviting to set foot in, even before the food has come out.
Little Nonna’s has a terrace out back with grapevines, and clusters of tables on a sunny patio. From the pictures it looks heavenly. Unfortunately, I was there while the snow was falling and the patio was not in use.
One of the most popular appetizers is their singular meatball. The gigantic meatball sits on a bed of creamy polenta and tart tomato sauce. The meatball itself is juicy, a little spicy, and filled with melted cheese that spills out when you cut it open. And at Little Nonna’s, the presentation is beautiful. Everything is brought out on different-size, mismatched dishes. The tiramisu was served in a little teacup sitting on a saucer. The buffer between the cup and saucer was a snippet of a menu. I highly recommend the seafood entree—roasted swordfish and squid on a little mound of cannellini beans and arugula, all topped with a spicy lemony sauce. And the tiramisu is a perfect creamy concoction that melts in your mouth. If you come to Little Nonna’s, bring your appetite. You will leave fully satisfied. Some meals are so wonderful you cannot stop smiling after you’ve eaten them. This is one of those meals. Bon appétit!
*It is probably a good idea to reserve a seat at Little Nonna’s because of its small size and popularity.