There’s A New Italian Restaurant In Laguna And It’s Worth The Drive To The South

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Back when Mama Lou’s first opened up their branches in BF Homes and Nuvali, the Northerners of Metro Manila would leave their houses way ahead of eating time and Waze their way to the South just to catch a free table. As much as the journey was troublesome, the hassle of weaving in and out of traffic was always repaid with great Italian food and the warmest service.

While it’s a relief that Mama Lou’s opened up a much more accessible branch in QC, we have yet another reason to hit the road and travel to the South, ­­this time for their new restaurant concept that’s just as worthy of our time and gas money.

Meet Mama Lou’s younger and quirkier sister, Nonna’s!

While Mama Lou’s is the kind of place you’d want to bring your family to for a nice Sunday lunch, Nonna’s, with its young and quirky ambiance, is much more suited for casual get ­togethers with your girlfriends or simple Saturdates with your bae.

Nonna's Pasta and Pizzeria, Nuvali

Inside Nonna’s Pasta and Pizzeria (Photo on the right taken by Marti M.)

Nonna’s may mean “grandmother” in Italian, but its vibe is anything but old!

Diners at Nonna’s get to enjoy their food in a fresh, laid-­back space accentuated by wood, brick, and metal. If you’ve never been to a Tuscan home, you’ve got this restaurant as a Pinterest-­perfect peg. (Just to throw in a fun fact, the paint on the walls are the proud work of hands­-on owners David and Crystal Sison!)

David and Crystal Sison

David and Crystal Sison

But aside from being a hipper version of its predecessor, the ultimate goal of Nonna’s is really to show everyone that you don’t need to splurge to have fresh pasta and pizza on your table. Prices here are set to be affordable, even with the use of fresh, top ­notch ingredients.

Find guilt ­free chicharon, a volcano­ inspired pasta dish, and clam pie pizza on the menu

Inside Nonna’s pantry, you’ll find quality ingredients that even the great Italian chef and restaurateur Gennaro Contaldo (star of the show Two Greedy Italians and Jamie Oliver’s mentor) would be happy to cook with.

Their salt, flour, olive oil, and cheeses are imported straight from Italy while their other cooking essentials are sourced from local, all ­organic farms in Silang, Cavite and Tagaytay. Their cherry tomatoes are from The Old Kano’s Farm, their carabao milk and kesong puti from the General Trias Daily Raisers Multi ­Purpose Cooperative, and their arugula from Dragonfly Organic Farm.

Nonna's Flour and Salt

Photo by Marti M.

But out of all of these carefully selected ingredients, it’s their flour that brings their dishes to the next level.

Double Zero “00” flour mixed with Semolina flour gives their pasta that extra bouncy bite (and not to mention an additional boost of protein) while Caputo “00” flour makes their pizza dough strong enough to hold up the weight of sauces and toppings (because no one likes a soggy, disintegrating crust!).

Nonnas Pizza and Pasta Dough

Nonna’s Pizza and Pasta Dough | Photo by Paolo S.

Before you proceed to stuff your face with a ton of Italian carbs, you should first ease into the feast with their guiltless Mushroom Chicharon. Despite their close resemblance to chicharon bulaklak, you don’t have to worry about your cholesterol skyrocketing through the roof.

Nonna's Mushroom Chicharon

Nonna’s Mushroom Chicharon

These fried, crispy oyster mushrooms served with vinaigrette are perfectly harmless!

As for your main course, order up the Vesuvio Pasta if you want an impressive visual treat. Designed to look like Mt. Vesuvius (best known for burying Pompeii and Herculaneum back in AD 79), you’ll find your rigatoni delicately stacked into the shape of this destructive volcano.

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without lava spewing out of it, hence the thick slathering of pomodoro, pesto, and alfredo sauces on top.

Nonna's Vesuvio Pasta

Nonna’s Vesuvio Pasta | Photo by Marti M.

It’s not just remarkable to look at, though. Each tube-shaped pasta is stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, peas, Italian meatballs and egg, making each bite intensely rich and flavorful.

If, however, you’re more into uncomplicated pasta dishes, there are a lot of tamer options on the menu for you, like the Salmon Caviar Pasta. Cooked in lemon alfredo sauce and then capped off with chives, smoked salmon, and caviar, it’s a no-frills entree that proves less is more.

Nonna's Salmon Caviar Pasta

Nonna’s Salmon Caviar Pasta

The Spaghetti Arrabiata, flavored with sun ­dried tomatoes, oregano, chili, and olive oil, is another familiar, comforting pasta dish you can help yourself to.

As for pizza, you can’t pass up on the bestselling Clam Pie. Because the Clam Chowder at Mama Lou’s has always been a huge hit, it made perfect sense to turn this soup into a creamy base sauce for pizza. Adorned with fresh clams, chili flakes, bacon, and parsley, you’ll only find this unconventional creation at Nonna’s.

Nonna's Kimchi Pizza

Nonna’s Kimchi Pizza

Another unusual but popular item on the menu is the Kimchi Pizza. Using the rising popularity of the Korean cuisine among Filipinos as inspiration, this one’s topped off with kimchi, homemade Korean sausage, scallions, sesame seeds, mozzarella, pomodoro, and sweet soy glaze sauce.

If you’re craving for some meat to go with all that carbs, get yourself a plate of their Rostito di Manzo. Like the Clam Pie, this too is a variation of a dish from Mama Lou’s menu.

Nonna's Rostito di Manzo

Nonna’s Rostito di Manzo | Photo by Paolo S.

By taking the raw beef of the Carpaccio di Manzo, roasting it, adding fresh garlic, olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and fresh rosemary, and then torching it, Nonna’s has created an entirely new entree that guests love plunging their teeth into.

At Nonna’s, thoughtful service is equally as important as great­ tasting food

Dining at Mama Lou’s is akin to getting a long hug from your sweet, old lola. Because aside from the effort they put into cooking your Italian favorites, they make sure you feel at home, too.

And you can expect the same kind of warm, caring hospitality at Nonna’s. In here, it’s 49% about doing things right (giving the right meal to the right guest, serving dishes at the right temperature, making sure the food is consistent, etc.) and 51% about doing things that are kind and thoughtful.

Makes the trip to Laguna all the more worth it.

Nonna’s Pasta & Pizzeria is located at Solenad 3, Nuvali, Tagaytay Rd. cor. Nuvali Blvd., Nuvali, Santa Rosa, Laguna.

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