"Little Nonna's" is tradition with a twist

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 29, 2013

So when prominent Center City restaurateurs Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney turned their attention to Italian-American, they crafted a menu that would be at home in South Philly but with uptown touches.

The two made their mark previously with everything from Indian to Spanish to pizza. Researching Italian-American was easier than those dining around the right neighborhoods in Philadelphia and New York.

Then, as always, they added their own touches and created a menu from the best ingredients they could find.

Some cured meats come from the west coast, but they selected sausage from Italian Market legend Fiorella's, in business for over a hundred years and makers of what could be the leanest sausage you'll ever taste.

Trickier than the ingredients was finding enough dinnerware to equip the dining room. Rather than phone a supplier and buy typical restaurant plates, the two worked their way through flea markets and bought up a collection of family-type plates, cups and saucers.

No, they don't all match, but maybe your grandmother's didn't, either.

The kitchen produces hearty, generous portions of the kind of "red gravy"-based dishes you're likely to find in an Italian-American home... the basic sauce crafted by the chef after tasting several around town.

You can get meatballs, and mussels, and more. Pastas are house-made. So are the desserts, including water ice produced in batches from seasonal fruits? Right now, it could be plum or peach. These ices are free of artificial colors and some are "fortified" with Italian beverages like the sparkling wine, Prosecco.

Everything you're offered will be the best of familiar ingredients, elevated by a chef's touch. The restaurant is open nightly for dinner. Lunch may be added later.

For information or reservations, phone 215-546-2100 or access Little Nonna's.

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