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i nonni – new favorite restaurant

Two of our friends wanted to take us out for dinner last night, and took us to one of their favorite places – i nonni in Lilydale, MN. Tiff and I both think it’s about the best restaurant experience either of us have had. We had the calamaris for an appetizer, and if you ever go to the restaraunt, I’d say it’s a requirement, even if you think you hate calamaris – it was, by far, the best I’ve ever had. Then, we debated what to get for dinner.. the four of us were thinking maybe we should just get four dishes and share everything, so we all get to try everything, but then we decided to try the restaraunt’s five-course tasting menu instead. The first course was an appetizer with sushi-grade tuna, and was excellent – tuna like I’ve never tasted before. The second course was spaghetti with tile fish, and was very interesting – none of us had tried tile fish before (that we could recall at least), and it was quite good. It almost tasted like shellfish, but different – again, very good. The third course was beef tenderloin served over mustard greens, with a mushroom sauce on top. We all had it medium rare (the way any good steak should be served!); as expected, it was unbeliveably tender, and the sauce complimented the steak very well. The fourth course was a type of bleu cheese and plum preserves served with a cracker; I’m not usually a big fan of bleu cheese, but the combination was great! The dessert was balsmaic strawberries served with a dessert cheese (which I, with my lack of culinary knowledge, thought was whipped cream before I tasted it) – again, a combination I would never have expected to like, but loved!

Each course besides the fourth also had a wine to accompany, and I was amazed at how well the restaraunt paired the wines to the food – many of the wines I would not have enjoyed on their own, but paired up, they were excellent. The dessert wine, however, was a completely different story — it was beyond anything I’ve tried before — it was amazingly sweet, yet not overpowering, and smooth on the palate. The wine was a 2002 Brachetto by the Forteto della Luja winery in Italy. It was good enough that I had to buy a bottle, even at the price of $45 for a 1/2 bottle (375ml). It’s also one of the few red wines I’ve had that is actually supposed to be served chilled. Here is a review of the wine, in Italian.. use your favorite translating site, like Babelfish.

Since Tiff and I were treated (thanks warren and Daniel!!), I can’t say how the price was, but I’m certain it wasn’t cheap.. I’d certainly recommend this restaraunt for any special occasion, or just a fun time.

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