SideDish Supper Club at Nonna: First Look

Zucchini blossoms from Nonna.
Zucchini blossoms from Nonna.

Last night’s SideDish Supper Club at Nonna was a delicious success. We hope you will chime in with comments if you were there. I’ve got photos after the jump, but this is a picture of the first course, the antipasti. The baked zucchini blossoms (from Tom Spicer, as chef Barsotti explained to us before we ate) stuffed with Paula Lambert’s goat’s milk ricotta were one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Mortadella, porchetta, and tonno del Chianti
Mortadella, porchetta, and tonno del Chianti

The mortadella, porchetta, and tonno del Chianti were served on one plate. Tonno del Chianti translates to tuna of Chianti, but it’s actually pork that has been cooked for a long time and marinated in olive oil. It was served on top of crunchy, grilled bread and it really does look like tuna. I loved the porchetta, too.

I’m looking at the menu and realizing we didn’t get to try the sformato of potato and ricotta with pesto. Shoot. Someone else will have to tell me how it was (can’t believe I didn’t notice that until now).

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Pappa al pomodoro

This was my favorite course of the night. The pappa al pomodoro soup is tomato soup, thickened by bread. And, it was thick–the consistency of oatmeal.Chef Barsotti used the last of the season’s tomatoes from east Texas.

Pici pasta with wild boar ragu
Pici pasta with wild boar ragu

You’re going to have to turn your head to the side for this one. I apologize. Someone who actually knows how to take photos and upload them properly is going to do it later. This is the pici pasta that the chefs at Nonna have been making for three days. The pici are really like long, thick spaghetti, and the wild boar ragu (made with boar from Broken Arrow Ranch) was hearty, but in a delicate way. I actually thought the ragu was a bit on the salty side, but I still loved it.

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The arista, or saddle, of pork

This is the arista of Berkshire pork. It was extremely tender, with a kick in the end I asked the chef about. He said the heat was from Calabrian chiles.

Fritto misto
Fritto misto

This is the fritto misto, with Gulf shrimp and oysters and seasonal vegetables. I only tried one small bite but this was fantastic, of course.

Contorni
Contorni

This are the sides, or the contorni. In the back is Anson Mills polenta with mascarpone and Pecornino Toscana, creamy and spread thin. The other dish contains the braised Cavolo Nero (a type of kale) and the corona beans, which I loved.

Dessert
Dessert

Here, we have East Texas peaches roasted with Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine, candied walnuts, and Tuscan honey gelato. I loved the nuts and the peaches, but the gelato wasn’t for me. It had a very flowery flavor that I didn’t care for, but I know I was the only one. Everyone else loved it. But the dinner was fantastic overall. My favorite dishes were: 1) the soup 2) pici 3) squash blossoms. If you were there, please chime in with your thoughts.

13 comments on “SideDish Supper Club at Nonna: First Look

  1. Nancy,

    Thanks for organizing the dinner – it was a great time.

    To me the highlights were the Pappa di Pomodoro and the Arista of Pork, but everything was good. The weakest courses (if I had to pick) were probably the Fritto Misto and the dessert. (The Fritto Misto showcased a few different styles of frying, some which were more successful than others, at least on my plate).

    You weren’t the only one on the Gelato – my wife thought it was too flowery as well (we asked, it was Chestnut honey flavored, which came through pretty strong). It worked out because I ate hers as well.

    You don’t mention the wine, but I thought it was very nice, especially the Alto-Borghese pairings (we tried one of each). I have more experience with Piedmont wines than Tuscan, but I thought the initial rose, the Brunello, and the Supertuscan were all very nice (and good pairings).

    You have also neglected to include a picture of your getup – an oversight that I am sure will be soon corrected.

  2. Sarah: Right click on the sideways photo in Windows Explorer and select “Rotate”. That should turn things around.

  3. Ti amo Nonna. SideDish SupperClub was really spectacular last night. Everything in the first course was perfect. The mortadella, as Julian (love him) explained is a bit like bologna but that doesn’t do it justice. It has a nutty, kind of nutmeggy taste that was so subtle and great and it really melted in your mouth. I loved everything in the first course. Also enjoyed the soup, it was so creamy! My favorite course was the pici. Nonna always rocks the pasta and this was amazing. Beautifully textured pici mellowed the salty boar ragu and the wine pairing on that dish – the Supertuscan – was outstanding. (Love you too Al.) The only downside to last night is that it was a wee bit late for that much great food and wine (not late by Italian standards though) but otherwise it was perfect. Thanks for D and Nancy for putting these events together. It’s a labor of love she puts on for the food lovers of Dallas. Thanks to Nonna’s excellent kitcen and wait staff too. Really awesome.

  4. I thought it was a fun and interesting dinner. The sformato appetizer was beautifully delicate and a great balance of flavors, you missed out on that! That and the porchetta were probably highlights of the appetizer for me and I thought it paired pretty well with the sweet sparkling brut. I didn’t think the cheaper chianti did as well with the soup but the ‘alta-borghese’ was really good. I really enjoyed the sides too, especially the greens & beans which were really flavorful but restrained & balanced.

    The pici pasta was definitely worth the effort, I’m glad I had the chance to have it. You can’t call it dense but it was quite substantial enough to stand out and very pleasurable, and stood up really well to the meaty ragu. This was another tough course to pair but this time it went pretty well.

    The fish in the frito misto (bronzini?) & gulf shrimp were excellent in their light crusts. The pork was outstanding, something worthy of trying to replicate in my own kitchen (although unlikely).

    I liked the dessert quite a bit actually, it wasn’t overly sweet and the nuts, peaches, and gelato paired to a sum greater than their parts, and the wine pairing was a very good one. Overall it was a great success and I’m really glad I went. Thanks Nancy for all your hard work!

  5. great dinner! In my view, the highlight was how well executed most of the dishes were. The pork chop (“arista”) is a beautiful example – from the trimming of the meat which left just enough fat behind for a few juicy bursts, to the dosing of pretty powerful herbs and spicy chiles, to the cooking which left the meat itself deliciously juicy and tender with a satisfying chew. Similarly the pici had was perfectly prepared – I’ve always found that the pasta at Nonna is masterfully prepared – perfectly al dente, no matter the size or shape, and the nuggets of wild boar in the ragu were ground to just the right size to provide a complimentary yet distinct texture from the pici.

    Actually, I found that textures played a large role for me in this meal – a fact that I really enjoyed. From the slightly spongy and creamy squash blossoms, the delicate and rich sformato with little crunches of pinoli, the tonno which did take on a tuna-like character, the bready thickness of the soup, and even the light viscosity of the vin santo with dessert.

    regarding dessert – there was a bit of difference of opinion in my discussions with others, but I felt that the sweetness of the wine (borghese) was exactly matched by the dessert. It was an interesting effect – the significant sweetness of the wine was gone when preceeded by a bite of gelato, leaving behind a hint of (I think) apricot and almond – echos of the roasted peach and candied walnuts in the dish. I thought that this was actually the best wine pairing of the meal – the others were pretty good too.

    I think you guys are 3/3 with SupperClub… I’m really looking forward to the next.

  6. Ditto to all that’s been said – especially a big thank you to Uncle Nancy for putting it all together for us. My only question is: where to next?

  7. Fun evening. Loved the zucchini blossoms, could have eaten about eight of them! The soup was fantastic – real peasant taste and feel. A big bowl of that soup and the pork tonno on that yummy grilled bread = cold winter, evening bliss in front of fire.

    Chef brought out his tin of fennel pollen that he used in the wild boar pasta – heady stuff!

    I was underwhelmed by the desert. I got in my head that the nuts tasted of the smell of Greek airport floor cleaner and it was all downhill from there.

    Did anybody else feel that they would have liked more interaction with the other diners? Bigger group tables maybe? Just saying….

  8. It was a terrific meal. My favorite was definitely the pasta, followed by the first course. The wine pairings were great (we had the Borghese). I do agree with Les Hall: The term Supper Club made me anticipate more of a community atmosphere. I thought maybe it would be one big or several big tables so we could share our enjoyment. We did get to chat with the lovely couple seated next to us. Thanks for a great night!

  9. I hate to agree with Nancy, its so boring, but I too thought the ragu was excellent and a little too salty. We had the fish and it was great, but I do not associate tempura with Italy. Perhaps, I have been going to the wrong part of the boot. The squash blossoms were superb, only to be surpassed by the wine, the best part of the evening. I confess I am not a fan of two settings or of entree choices for this type of event. I know Nonna is small but that’s part of its charm. The hustle and bustle of getting two sets of hungry, anxious culinary foragers in and out complicated matters for the staff and resulting in spotty service at our table. As aforesaid, I had the fish, but when I saw the pork, I wanted to have the pork. I’ll bet if I had had the pork, I would have wanted the fish. Go figure. Me things these events are super suppers, and we are all indebted Nancy and staff for their hard work in bringing them together, but I rather see one seating, one entree choice, and if the charm and dazzle of evening be that of small, intimate room, so be it.