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I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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Gluttony Can Be Yours For Only $20 at Nonna Restaurant!

Several months ago I heard about this great deal on the Upper West Side – Sunday at Nonna‘s you can eat your way through six courses for only $20! I don’t get to the UWS often, so when I met up with a friend who lives in the neighborhood, I knew I had to finally check out this special.

The courses are as follows: arancini (fried rice balls), Caesar salad, baked eggplant (like eggplant rollatini, but minus the ricotta cheese stuffed in the middle), rigatoni with marinara sauce, Sunday gravy (basically a meat plate with meatballs, sausages and something else), and to top off your evening of gluttony, zeppoli.

Believe it or not, the food wasn’t half bad. Actually, it was pretty good (minus the baked eggplant), and I was really surprised by the quality of food and the dishes they selected per course (I was afraid they’d serve things I don’t care about – like minestrone soup). Oh, and as if it’s not filling enough, they start you off with free bread and olive oil to dip. Bread and olive oil is a weakness of mine, and even though I knew I sat down for a huge meal, I still had my share of bread…but it was foccacia…and I was hungry….

Below are some thoughts on each course:

Arancini -good, but nothing special

Caesar salad – very good, and not dressed too heavily which was nice. But the best part were the fried goat cheese balls which took the place of croutons – I’ve never had this before, and as a huge goat cheese fan, I can’t understand why more restaurants don’t make these.

Baked Eggplant – way too bitter for my liking. Eggplant is prone to being bitter, so someone didn’t prepare it correctly to counteract that

Rigatoni with marinara sauce – good, but again nothing special. Luckily this course was served with the Sunday Gravy which made it much more appealing

Sunday Gravy – this was really delicious, we liked the choice of meats and marinara sauce. My only gripe is that the meatballs weren’t up to par with my Dad’s (very, very few meatballs have impressed me), so it definitely wasn’t worth the pain to eat it.

Zeppoli – delicious as always. I love the taste of fried dough (I know, that sounds weird), and topping it off with powdered sugar…well it was lovely. And they weren’t too big, which was important considering the size of the entire meal. It also came with some kind of honey-based dipping sauce, but I preferred it plain.

Overall thoughts: First, they don’t need to serve you bread, but I did enjoy it nonetheless. Second, they rushed us through the courses a bit. It wasn’t like a nice, prolonged Sunday Italian dinner – instead they brought out each course one right after the other, regardless of if you were finished with the first. This gave you no room to breathe, digest or enjoy the meal. And with a six-course dinner, you really need to approach it like a marathon, not a race, so I didn’t appreciate the unnecessary pressure to eat quickly. Third, they should either do away with the baked eggplant course or switch it for something lighter like shrimp or mussels. Fourth, the portion sizes actually were pretty good, and I liked that they served each round on one dish, for the group to split accordingly. But still, even with the smaller portions, I highly recommend only taking a few bites of each course – you’ll fill up faster than you think!

It’s hard to say if I think it was worth it or not. If you haven’t eaten in days or if you love overeating, then this is the place for you. For the quality of food and the price, you truly cannot beat it. The question is, do you want to eat six courses? Do you want to feel sick for hours afterwards? Sure, some of you are probably reading and thinking – well, you did it to yourself, you ate too much at each course. Well eff you. You go and try to restrain yourself completely. It’s hard! So in the end, it’s really up to you – are you interested in a great value and many courses of good food? Then go for it…but if you’re watching your waistline or if you don’t like eating past feeling full, then you should skip it.

The Basics
Name: Nonna
Location: 520 Columbus Avenue at 85th Street
Who to take: Friends, Family, a Date
Price: $$-$$$
Overall: Incredible value, but gluttony will ensue. 4 Stars.

Nonna on Urbanspoon

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