Forced Couple Fun: Nonna’s The Trattoria

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I recently had a breakfast meeting at Nonna's in downtown Ada. As most of you know, downtown Ada has had quite a bit of change. When I walked in to the restaurant, my breakfast companion wasn't there, which seemed odd. I then remembered I was in the Pantry—and the new Trattoria was across the street. I found my breakfast companion, had our meeting and enjoyed an amazing breakfast.

The food was so good, Jason and I moved it to the top of the list for date night dinner out!

Some of the best conversations we have typically happen over a glass of wine. (It's much easier to approach Jason and get a favorable answer about new furniture if wine is involved.) We decided to stop at RiverHouse Ada before dinner. Unbeknownst to us, we were having our last glass of wine there. We learned that evening that RiverHouse would pour its last wine December 31. There will be no replacement; the building that held some great restaurants is being torn down. It was great to have one last glass of wine there and look forward to what I'm sure will be new adventures from Christine Gill.

After that excitement, we went to Nonna's. When you walk in you get an Italian-style welcome, complete with friendly faces, good service, knowledgeable staff and lots of noise. The noise may sound like a bad thing, but we don't think it was. The bistro-style setup fosters conversations with friends you haven't seen in a while—yes, we ran into people we knew—and we chatted with the couple next to us, making a comparison about desserts. The friendly atmosphere adds to the overall experience. 

So ... Let's talk food.

There's no doubt the best ingredients are taken into consideration when Nonna's prepares the food. We loved being able to view the kitchen and the food prep. Jason is most definitely a foodie, so this was a bit of an attraction for him. Our server was extremely knowledgeable and offered suggestions for ordering. The menu has a lot of great selections, but after an office potluck, I have to admit, going crazy wasn't on the docket.

We started with the bresaola. It's a very different texture from beef carpaccio, but the dried, aged Italian beef had great flavor. This was a light way to start the evening—just what we needed. We don't often share meals, but we shared a beet salad that had goat cheese, lettuce, and nuts. It was the perfect portion for each of us. Jason normally isn't a fan of beets, but we both enjoyed it tremendously.

We passed on the pasta course, giving us something to look forward to on our next visit, and went straight to the entrees. I was torn between a ravioli special and the grilled salmon. Our waitress suggested the salmon, saying it was the "best in town." It was good; the cherry tomatoes and shallots added a nice flavor. But—yes, there's a but—if you find a place that has an amazing dish you love, don't order it somewhere else, because it will be hard to beat. I should have gone with the pasta, and that's no one's fault but my own.

Jason ordered the braised lamb and thought it was spectacular. Lamb isn't something we both like, so for him it's often a pleasant treat, especially when done so well.

We ended our meal by sharing dessert. We don't do that often, but Nonna's is known for the pastries across the street, so it was a must. We were not disappointed. We ordered the chocolate hazelnut torte—and the toasted hazelnuts on top combined with the vanilla gelato made it superb. I will definitely save room for pasta and dessert next time!

Yes, there will be a next time for Nonna's.

It's close to home, which is great. More important, the service made the difference. Everything—from the bartender asking questions to really understand what we wanted and making a perfect recommendation, to our knowledgeable waitress, to the owner coming by our table more than once to see how things were—made Nonna's The Trattoria a great addition to downtown Ada.

Kasie Smith is the president and publisher of West Michigan Woman. She and her husband, Jason, are fans of food, travel and golf—and their twin sons, Jackson and Spencer. Watch WestMichiganWoman.com for more stops on their Foodie Tour! And click here to learn more about Forced Couple Fun.

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