Nashville Restaurants and Food
109 Walton Ferry Road
It’s cool that Nashville finally has some nicer places for Italian food. Still, we’ve been looking for a mom and pop Italian-American joint that dishes up tasty, inexpensive pasta, pizza and sandwiches. We think we’ve finally found it, and in Hendersonville of all places. Open just three months, Nana Rosa is a comforting addition to the Nashville area restaurant scene.
Italian-American really is its own cuisine and while it may cause some foodies to turn up their noses at the lack of authenticity, you can experience great Italian-American food in cities all over the country. In Milwaukee we had a few favorite spots where you could immerse yourself in the family atmosphere. Nana Rosa certainly has that family feel. Skip and Billee Helm have pictures of the relatives on the walls, and even living room furniture to complete the look. Now some of this strays into Italian-American kitsch, like the plastic vines and olive bunches hanging from the trellis, red and white checkered table cloths, and the café scene painted on the wall. Quite frankly (sorry we couldn’t resist) it only adds to the vibe when Frank Sinatra kicks in on the stereo.
It’s an intimate little dining room with 12 tables wedged in tight. It seems like Nana Rosa may need the seating at times. Even for a weekend lunch they were doing good business. The server proved to be one of the best we’ve had in some time. She hustled from table to table, with a sharp eye for an empty water glass, or the need for some more bread. And that bread is a nice start, toasted lightly and served with olive oil, well seasoned with salt and pepper. The waitress warned that all dishes are made to order and it may take a few minutes. We appreciated the honesty, and the speed with which our bread and drinks appeared. We sipped a frothy cappuccino and relaxed.
The wait wasn’t long at all. Two giant bowls were presented and we dug in. The fettucine Alfredo is made with quality pasta and cooked al dente. It’s served in a flavorful Alfredo flecked with parsley and bits of red pepper. The chicken proves the made to order test: the breast chunks are moist and tender - perfectly cooked.
The menu includes ravioli filled with mascarpone and corn, veal or chicken. Panini include prosciutto and provolone; fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil; and a chicken breast, ham, pepperoni and Swiss cheese creation. Nana’s lasagna, pasta faggiole, baked ziti and Poppy Frank’s meatballs all look like contenders for our next visit. Appetizers come out for the dinner menu (bruschetta, caprese and garlic cheese bread) and a chicken parmigiana joins the lunch line-up for the dinner entrees.
Veggie Eater: You need to be sure to alert the staff if you are vegetarian. Items that may seem veggie friendly may in fact have a meatified component. Case in point, the Broccoli Rigatoni. It is normally served in a chicken broth. However, since each dish really is made to order, they chef will happily make it without. It was a heaping serving of rigatoni with what appears to be pan steamed broccoli. The broccoli is soft enough to easily cut with a fork when scooping up the pasta, but not soggy. It is served with parsley, olive oil and a bit of garlic. They left the cheese on the side in case I was vegan; I happily dumped the Parmesan on top. The pasta was cooked well; I like it a bit more al dente, but it was not overdone. We opted to finish with cannoli; the waitress was honest that the cannoli shells were not made there, but the mascarpone filling was. A few token mini semi sweet chocolate chips dotted the filling. Typical Italian fare: sweet, not cloying. Not sure from where the cannoli shells harkens, but they were fresh and crumbly. Not fine dining, but the closest I’ve come to mom and pop Italian-American dining since moving to Nashville.
Meat Eater: They advertise Nana Rosa as an Italian market, but there wasn’t much available to our eye. They also say they make Biscotti but don’t have it on the menu. Hmmm. Probably worth asking about. Nana Rosa is a good place for families. Kids won’t feel out of place and what child doesn’t enjoy a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? They don’t have a wine license yet, but you can bring your own bottle. Nana Rosa lived up to our Italian-American hopes and will probably become a regular spot for us. They keep long hours, serving up breakfast and lunch and staying open for dinner until 9pm Thursday through Saturday. We paid $34 with tax and tip.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Nashville Restaurants and Food