Their love for Italian food has passed down through generations of chefs, and now the Morena family has doffed yet another culinary feather in their cap with the launch of La Nonna Ristorante and Bar on Kent Avenue Wednesday night.
The new opening marks the second foray into Williamsburg’s culinary world for the chef and owner of La Nonna, Cono Morena, who also runs the popular La Nonna Pizzeria Trattoria Paninoteca on Bedford Avenue, a neighborhood staple since 2007.
La Nonna marks a foray into a more fine dining style of southern Italian cooking for Morena compared to the more laidback vibe at the Pizzeria.
But what has remained unchanged is Morena’s zealous innovative spirit, constantly challenging existing classics through experimentation and delivering inventive combinations of Italian food.
Just some of the ingenious samplings on offer at the restaurant include Bistecca Ai Ferri – a grilled Ribeye steak with Shishito peppers; Costolette Di Agnello – Australian lamb chops with honey goat cheese, pink peppercorns and amarena cherries; and Spigola Cilena – a Chilean Sea Bass with Rhode Island calamari, cipollini onions, roasted cherry tomatoes and miso toasted bread crumbs.
Morena moved to the United States from Taleggio, Italy in the early nineties after meeting his wife Anna, who runs the restaurant along with him. Anna’s family had a history of operating successful local restaurants, including San Marco Pizzeria on Lorimer Street and Manhattan Avenue’s iconic Valdiano.
When Morena first moved to the neighborhood he worked at different pizza shops in the neighborhood. His first duties included delivering pizzas.
“He developed a passion for cooking as he started working in that environment,” said Anna Morena. “His love for cooking and creating has just kept on blossoming since.”
Today he is the proud owner of a Pizzeria himself, and now a fine dining restaurant.
The restaurant is named in the memory of Morena’s grandmother who passed away last April.
La Nonna’s sprawling 4,000 square foot space features seats for 130 diners. Large glass windows, rustic tables and furniture, and bronze wired chandeliers add warmth to the space – a feeling of being at home and with family, an atmosphere Anna persevered to create.
“I really want this space to be a home away from home for our customers,” she said. “It’s all about making everybody feel welcome here.”
La Nonna Ristorante & Bar, 184 Kent Ave., between N 3rd and 4th Sts., Tue-Thu, 4-11 p.m., Fri-Sun, 12-11 p.m., for the menu and more information visit http://www.lanonnabk.com.