They called it "Pizza and Little Cokes." The deal is that you have to wait until the tree is up and the house is decorated for the holidays. Then you order a pizza that is better than your normal takeout and enjoy it with real Cokes out of real glass bottles. My household jumped on the idea and has celebrated it for the past six years. So when it came time to pick this year's pizza, I figured Nonna's was the place to go.
Located next to Caffe Nonna at 4427A Murphy Road in Sylvan Park, the pizzeria is the epitome of a cozy little wine bar. It shares a vestibule entrance with the original restaurant — along with sharing Maggipinto's dedication to affordable Italian comfort food. The selection of wines and beers is extensive and nicely priced. There's even Moretti on the menu if you want a great Italian brew.
The list of starters includes some interesting bar snacks like Mediterranean Spiced Nuts and a Wood Roasted Salsa. We ordered the Italian Bacon/Cheese dip made with pancetta, gorgonzola, Parmesan, feta, beer and herbs, which tasted like the most upscale beer cheese ever. Served with toasted flatbread squares and carrots for dipping, it was a wonderful appetizer to kick off our special meal.
We skipped the salads, but a takeout salad from the more formal restaurant side has always been a solid way to get something healthy in our diet before gorging on Nonna's pizza and pastas. Another intriguing menu item that we didn't sample was the list of piadinis. It's sort of like a hybrid between a calzone and a panini; Nonna's Pizzeria cooks half pies in their wood oven before adding mixed greens, folding them over and finishing them in a modified panini press. Since the restaurant is also open for lunch, that may well be my next dish to try. they offer a zucchini-based veggie version along with two meat options featuring prosciutto and chicken.
We did order two of their 10-inch pizzas to sample. One would be plenty for an individual meal, or you might select a few to share. The Primavera was topped with zucchini, artichoke, roasted red pepper, goat cheese and a delicious pesto. While the sauce was more muted than on some pizzas, it did fool us into believing that we were eating something at least halfway healthy. We didn't kid ourselves with the Goomba, a spicy red-sauce pizza with pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella and Parmesan. The crust was paper-thin, but still not cracker-crispy thanks to a quick and artful trip through the oven.
We'll definitely try the 3 Graces on our next visit, since it sounded delicious. Prosciutto, seasonal fruit (heirloom pears at the moment), gorgonzola, arugula and fig-balsamic syrup sounds like a very interesting combo of sweet and spicy to me, so please leave a comment if you get to it before I do. There are other pizzas — like Greek, Tuscan Chicken, Bianco and a traditional margherita they call the Nonna — on the menu to tempt us on future visits.
The friendly staff was very helpful as we made our choices, and the food was quick to come out of the oven. I can definitely see spending some crisp winter evenings plowing through the wine and pizza list at this bar soon. And somebody please remind me to save room for their signature dessert item, which is apparently already growing quite a following. Do I have to say more than "Chocolate-Dipped Cannoli with Nutella Filling?" I didn't think so.
Nonna's Pizzeria and Wine Bar is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Now that the pizza side is up and running, Caffe Nonna has again started serving lunch during the weeks, giving you two great options to grab a midday meal in the Sylvan Park/West End area. Check it out soon and let us know about what we missed on Pizza and Little Coke Night.
Nonna's Pizzeria and Wine Bar
4427A Murphy Road