13th Street Restaurant Group owners Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran turn their restaurant magic to a cozy Italian-American concept inspired by nearby South Philly.
Located in Midtown Village, Little Nonna’s features many of the characteristics of their signature hospitality style — intimate seating (for 40 inside and another 40 outside), a studied but not overly circumscribed approach to cuisine, a fun flair for design and a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Here, the combination is especially appealing: Who doesn’t crave slow-simmered Sunday gravy and garlic bread or enjoy a kitschy approximation of a family home with gilt frame mirrors and ceramic flowers? Even those diners who don’t have a Nonna to call their own will find a familiar comfort at this earthy eatery.
Open for lunch and dinner, Little Nonna’s serves up the kind of food that could be habit-forming. Marcie Turney’s stylish take on what a grandmother would cook—if said grandmother stuffed her meatballs with fontina cheese—emphasizes abundance and contentment. ]
Even those diners who don’t have a Nonna to call their own will find a familiar comfort at this earthy eatery.
At lunch time, there’s a chef spin on the Philly classic roast pork Italiano and chicken parmesan sandwiches (with horseradish aioli and heirloom tomatoes, respectively). A three-course tasting for $20 provides an excellent value.
Dinner starts with wild mushroom arancini or a Gem lettuce Caesar with charred broccolini and polenta croutons, followed by pastas with braised lamb or garlic shrimp.
The Sunday gravy, served daily while supplies last, includes shortribs, meatballs and sausage over pasta.
On the beverage side, one might expect straw-bottomed bottles of chianti, but instead the wine list goes upmarket with eight selections by the glass, two by the carafe and ten by the bottle, all Italian but wide-ranging in region and flavor profile. The bar offers a few Italian and Italian-inspired cocktails (aperol spritz; negroni). Desserts — tiramisu, hazelnut cannoli — continue to respectfully update the staples of lace-covered parlors.
A red vinyl banquette runs the length of the dining room, and the wooden tables are topped with mismatched flea market dishware, evoking a “from the Old Country” aesthetic.
Wood-paneled walls and curio cabinets filled with vintage knickknacks call back to an earlier era, though the delicious smells emanating from the stainless steel open kitchen at the back of the room keep any reverie in the present moment.
Wood-paneled walls and curio cabinets filled with vintage knickknacks make up the aesthetic of the restaurant.
— Photo by E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia
13th Street Restaurant Group has, over nearly two decades, helped revive Midtown Village with four high-rated eateries and three retail operations. Check out their other popular concepts:
Marcie Turney, Valeria Safran and the 13th Street Restaurant Group dominates Midtown Village with four high-rated eateries and three retail operations.
— Photo by Visit Philadelphia
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