Casa Nonna

Casa Nonna

Casa Nonna

In our new neighborhood of Midtown West (North of Chelsea, Southern Hell’s Kitchen, whatever you want to call it), Casa Nonna has become a go-to restaurant for us.

It didn’t hurt that the first night we walked in there was a Monday, the night when they  just happen to have half off on all their bottles of wine.  And an eclectic wine list is theirs, all Italian, but including some surprises like the bottle of Gewurtztraminer that we enjoyed on that first night (“Hey, wait a minute” – I can hear you saying – “that’s a German varietal.”  Well, this was an Italian Gewurtztraminer.  I kid you not.).

With it being our first night there, and both of us being really hungry, we went all out.  I got an octopus salad for my appetizer that was quite wonderful (I’ve been eating a lot of octopus lately, and this one was very nicely cooked – not chewy, but still with tooth to it).

Polipo Salad with Umbrian Chick Peas

Polipo Salad with Umbrian Chick Peas

Now of course the first words out of my mouth to the server were about my allergy.  I will tell you that they have accommodated my dairy allergy very nicely every time we have been there.  They bring me bread toasted with olive oil, and advise me on menu items that can be more successfully adapted.  On this first occasion, I asked about a squid-ink pasta with clams, and was told that it would be no problem to make it with oil instead of butter.

Farfalle Nero with Poached Egg

Farfalle Nero with Poached Egg

I don’t know what it is about squid-ink pasta, but whenever I see it on a menu, I will invariably order it when I can.  This one, in rough farfalle shapes, was excellent.  I chopped up the poached egg, and the yolk mixing with the dish’s clam broth made an extraordinary coating for the pasta.  To get a little more vegetables into the meal, I ordered a side of sauteed spinach, which they prepared for me with oil.

Sauteed Spinach

Sauteed Spinach

Made with garlic, hazelnuts and raisins, I loved it (I will be putting nuts and raisins into my spinach with garlic at home from now on!).

The second time we visited, a week or two later, we were told that the restaurant had switched over to its spring menu, and therefore there were some new menu items.  The farfalle nero was gone (no!), but luckily there were some new pastas that sounded well worth trying.  The one I went for that night was the pappardelle with wild boar ragu, porcini mushrooms and dried cranberries.

Papperdelle al Porcini

Papperdelle al Porcini

It sounds like a weird idea to put dried cranberries in a tomato-y sauce, but honestly, it works incredibly well.  With my love of Moroccan tagines, I am used to the idea of balancing out rich savory meaty sauces with the sweetness of dried fruits.  So this dish was a big winner for me.  In fact, it is my favorite Casa Nonna dish to date.

Most recently, when we were back at Casa Nonna, I tried the new squid-ink pasta dish – Tagliatelle Nero with bay scallops.

Tagliatelle Nero with Bay Scallops

Tagliatelle Nero with Bay Scallops

This was good, once again with a nice seafood-y broth/sauce to accompany the pasta and nice bite-sized scallops.  It wasn’t quite as good as the previous black pasta, though – I think I was missing the poached egg, but I guess that is a winter-y touch in their minds.  Once again, I paired it with some sauteed spinach, for a very satisfying dinner.

Casa Nonna is part of a group of restaurants called E-Squared Hospitality that has a loyalty rewards program.  We signed up the first time we were there, and it took a while for me to get my loyalty card; but now that I have it, we get a dollar off every item on the menu when we eat there, and occasionally I gather we will get other sweet deals (percentages off the bill, that kind of thing).  We look forward to being back again at Casa Nonna very soon!  Maybe next time we will splurge for another half-priced bottle of Italian wine on a Monday…

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to “The Dairy Free Traveler” blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!)

The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl’s tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros — (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.)

The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs.

Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at TripAdvisor.com. His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers — half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world.

Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to “Savoring Gotham” edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).

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