Tuesday, December 8, 2009. Nonna Mia. It rained again. In fact, it was coming down so hard that even with an umbrella I barely was able to cross the street from the garage to the radio station without getting wet. What a sloshy month we're having!
The need to have dinner at the Bon Ton is making its seasonal visit to my mind. But it was still raining when I got off the air. I wound up going up Esplanade Avenue to Nonna Mia, the newish Italian restaurant that took over a distinctive space in the restaurant row around Grand Route St. John. It's in a house I'd guess is about eighty years old, with a big porch and square columns. A series of restaurants, none of them very successful or good, has come through the place. With other popular eateries within a block, it's a good neighborhood for a restaurant, one would suppose.
The menu and the premises are mismatched. The dining rooms are only a little renovated from the original residential function--a common adaptation in New Orleans, lending a certain improvisational quality that we like around here. But the menu--both in its contents and presentation--is like something out of a slick, suburban concept restaurant.
The menu is less adventuresome than I was hoping for, but more extensive than the standard pizza-and-pasta house. Still, I stayed with the basics, starting with a Caesar salad and finishing with a pizza of goat cheese, fresh tomatoes, spinach, artichokes, and garlic sauce. The latter flowed freely enough that one's fingers became oily with it. The menu warns that the standard crust here is thick and bready, but that you can have a thin and crisp curst if you prefer. I do. It was thin, but not crisp.
The accommodating waitress touted me on the cheesecake, made in the premises. Better than I expected, as were the other parts of the meal. The prices were about right. I had no real complaints about the food. But I can't think of a reason I'd come back here other than to survey more of the menu for the purpose of writing about it.
Nonna Mia. Esplanade Ridge: 3125 Esplanade Ave 504-948-1717. Pizza. Pasta.