The Busalacchi family is proud to announce the opening of its newest culinary venture Nonna, serving Italian comfort food in the space that formerly housed the restaurant group’s beloved flagship concepts Trattoria Fantastica and Café Zucchero in the epicenter of Little Italy’s India Street. The two spaces, formerly divided by a wall, have now been combined into one under the umbrella of the affectionately named Nonna, a familial nod to every Italian family’s respected matriarch and especially to the Busalacchi’s own grandmother, Christina. Maintaining the property’s heritage, the Italian café offshoot of Zucchero still occupies a portion of the newly revamped 5,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space serving all-day coffee and traditional pastries, deeply rooted in Italian technique.
Fresh off the heels of the well-received resurrection of the Po Pazzo space into Barbusa in 2016, the Busalacchi family decided to breathe new life into the Trattoria Fantastica space that first opened doors in 1995 in a then-desolate Little Italy. At the time, the restaurants were headed by the family’s patriarch Joe, often regarded as a pioneer in San Diego’s Little Italy district, and his brother Frank, both Sicilian immigrants who moved to San Diego as young men. Now, more than 20 years and several successful restaurants later, Joe and Frank are passing the reins to Frank’s son, Vince Busalacchi who, along with his older brother Peter, plan to introduce a familial perspective on their Sicilian heritage.
Conceptualized by Chef Joe and his nephew, Executive Chef Nino Zizzo, (Po Pazzo, Barbusa) and managed by Vince, Nonna aims to enhance the current Little Italy dining landscape by reintroducing locals and visitors alike to traditional Sicilian cuisine with an emphasis on the classics. Rendering homage to the fundamental emphasis on supporting neighborhood growers that’s deeply rooted in Italian gastronomy, Nonna sources both produce and seafood from local farms and purveyors.
Menu highlights include classic Antipasti starters from Calamari Fritti with marinara and lemon wedge and Caprese with burrata, tomatoes, pesto, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil to Arancine with saffron rice, beef ragu and mozzarella and Carpaccio with arugula, capers, parmesan and lemon. Other notable signature dishes include family recipes for Lasagne with meat ragu and béchamel, Bolognese Nonna with mafaldine and meat ragu, Bucatini Amatriciana with pancetta, onions, pomodoro and pecorino in addition to more experimental dishes including Casarecce Al Funghi with stuffed shells, oyster mushrooms, mascarpone, breadcrumbs and vodka cream sauce and Pasta Con Sarde with bucatini, sardines, fennel, pine nuts and currants. Rounding out the Nonna menu are a variety of pizzas including Margherita and Proscuitto from the restaurant’s stone oven along with Vitello Marsala with veal loin, mushrooms, florio marsala and seared gnocchi and Pollo Parmigiano with chicken breast, marinara sauce, mozzarella and tortellini.
In his aesthetic approach, well-respected Tijuana-born designer Eugenio Velazquez placed a strong emphasis on combining the old through the strategic placement of vintage relics and cookbooks to the new with modern pendant lights, structural elements, and cheeky artwork. Upon entrance into Nonna, guests are immediately greeted with a familiar warmth, akin to stepping into grandma’s house. To accomplish this, Velazquez has inserted the restaurant with various aspects intended to conjure up decades of red-sauce soaked nostalgia from every vantage point be it the 75-seat outdoor urban oasis patio to mimic grandma’s backyard, the various indoor options including a 10-seat beer and wine bar or the front patio lining vibrant India Street.
Nonna is located at 1735 India Street. For complete information, visit: www.nonnasd.com.