I am forever grateful to my awesome cousin, Charles, for telling me about Nona Mia, when it was still out in a strip mall on Patton Avenue and before we could walk to it from our house. He pretty much said it was the best Italian food in Asheville, and after trying it for the first time several years ago, I had to agree with him. I’m not sure I would have ever noticed it was there if he hadn’t told me about it. Which seems appropriate, since “Nona Mia” means “my grandmother” in Italian, and it is all about the family ties that bring us together.
Nona Mia began a new venture about a year ago called Pizzeria Ritrovo, which was in its current location on Haywood Road in West Asheville. While both locations served pizza, the styles were different (Neopolitan and Sicilian) and only Nona Mia also had pasta, while Pizzeria Ritrovo boasted homemade gelato. Now, the two great tastes that taste great together have merged into one spectacular restaurant, minus the chocolate and peanut-butter (okay, there’s a little chocolate and peanut-butter). Nona Mia offers a wealth of vegetarian options, and many items that can be made vegetarian by subbing items on request–they’ll sub extra mushrooms on the Fettucini Alfredo Mia, which usually features prosciutto, for example. Vegans have a couple of options as well, but diners seeking gluten-free are probably going to end up eating a salad–Nona Mia is very heavy on the carbs.
Anyway, on this particular dining adventure,we located a table outside on the only outdoor dining porch in West Asheville (as far as I know) that faces trees and a neighborhood rather than the road. It’s a relaxing experience to say the least. We ordered a plate of their assorted homemade breads as an appetizer, which comes with olive oil and herbs as a dip. Their breads range from long, crunchy breadsticks and foccaccia to sesame-seeded white. All are satisfying and delightful.
Sean and I both ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana, with different pastas (they offer a variety). As usual, the sauce tasted like they had just whipped it up in the fifteen minutes or so it took us to get our food. Fresh and light, packed with tomatoes, basil and garlic, it reminds you of all that is right and good with summertime (appropriate, since the weather sort of felt like summertime). The eggplant is like none I’ve ever tasted elsewhere–it’s breaded just right and cut really thick–the shape and size of a good-sized hamburger patty. It was so delicious that AY couldn’t stop at just one taste and had to have another sample before I boxed half of it up for my lunch the next day. Not bad for one of the dreaded members of the nightshade family…
AY- I was equally impressed with the hidden outdoor eating area. I visited Nona Mia once at their original location and this was a welcome upgrade as far as ambiance and indoor and outdoor seating options.
As Scoops mentioned, there are several vegetarian options on the menu . . . if you want to load up on the carbohydrates! If you are looking for a whole grain, protein source (beans or tofu), and green vegetable – you won’t find that on the menu. That being said, Nona Mia does what they do well – and that is to serve up authentic Italian food. The wait staff was very attentive and knowledgeable.
I wanted to avoid dairy, garlic, and go light on the nightshades; so I ordered a basic angel hair pasta with tomato and basil sauce. The dish was well prepared and tasty, but I found myself wishing there would have been the option to add tofu for protein.
For dessert I had the pistachio gelato which I thoroughly enjoyed! They sell it by the pint to go and I was definitely tempted . . .
I had the chocolate layer cake, which had a chocolate filling and chocolate coffee butter cream icing. It was garnished with caramel sauce and strawberry coulis–yum! It was moist, rich, and delectable. And I agree with AY, this is not a place you go when you’re watching your figure. It might be an excellent place to go if you have a marathon to run the next day though…or just want to take a special person out for a delicious, relaxing night out. It’s truly one of my favorite places in town.
Overall, I enjoyed our experience at Nona Mia even though I don’t frequent Italian restaurants often. As we were leaving Sean pointed out that Jupiter, Mars and Venus were visible, and we stood there gazing up at the night sky. Then we all looked at each other and admitted that the carbs had taken their toll and we were ready to take a nap . . .