If you dream of mozzarella cheese-pulls and hearty Italian food, drop everything and make the trip out to Nonno’s Italian Restaurant in Altamonte.
It seems every time I visit (or move to) a new city, the first item on my to-do list is to locate an authentic Italian restaurant. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I grew up in a family that was Italian on both sides. There wasn’t a meal that wasn’t smothered in homemade sauce, cheese, and meatballs.
So it’s only natural that I ended up 40 minutes from my Lake Nona residence to sample the food at Nonno’s. Upon waiting for a table, we chatted with other Buffalo transplants, so we knew we’d found a reliable Italian joint. The interior is cozy, filled with Frank Sinatra tunes and kind staff.
Before I get to the mouthwatering, cheese-covered photos, it’s worth noting that Nonno’s recently reopened for curbside pickup. I made the trip out there this past weekend, and even after a 40-minute ride back to Lake Nona, the meal was hot enough that I had to use an oven mitt to transfer it to a plate.
THE ITALIAN MEAL OF YOUR DREAMS
If there’s one thing I can promise, it’s that you won’t leave Nonno’s hungry. Each meal begins with complimentary fresh-baked Italian bread, crispy on the outside and warm on the inside. Each loaf is served with the most incredible pesto dipping sauce, which I would gladly eat with a spoon given the opportunity.
Since you’re likely inhaling the alluring scent of sauce and garlic from the second you sit down, it may seem impossible to wait for your meal to arrive. To help hold you over, I’d recommend starting with the crispy calamari or the cheesy mozzarella sticks, served with the most perfect marinara sauce known to man.
As is customary in most authentic Italian restaurants, your entree will include a side soup or salad. Opt for the soup of the day: the Italian wedding soup is out of this world. You will never look at soup as a side item after the first bite.
For your entree, you can choose from a huge menu of homestyle Italian favorites, from pasta to flatbreads, seafood, classics, and signature dishes. What are you in the mood for?
THEY HAVE IT ALL.
We opted for two of our go-to favorites: shrimp parmesan and chicken parmesan. Both come with a large topping of meat/seafood and a heap of delicious tomato-sauce-covered pasta.
It’s worth noting that the most popular dishes are the Tortellini di Leo (pink meat sauce, prosciutto, mozzarella) and the Pollo di Stefano (chicken, sausage, prosciutto, pepperoncini, mushrooms, black olives, lemon, wine).
I’d recommend pairing your already-massive meal with a side of meatballs, because what’s an Italian meal without leftovers?
Now, I know you’re already full. But let’s talk dessert. Not only does Nonno’s have cannolis and tiramisu made in-house, but it also serves the most delectable slices of chocolate cake. The first time we went, it was sold out, so it’s definitely a crowd favorite. And here’s why: it’s four layers of semi-sweet chocolate cake filled and iced with rich chocolate fudge and finished with marbled chocolate curls. Yes, you have room. You can do it!
The best part about this restaurant (besides the huge portion sizes) is the price. It’s affordable, approachable Italian, so you don’t have to feel bad about ordering one of everything on the menu. Because trust me, you will.
BEHIND THE FOOD
Every meal at Nonno’s tastes homemade, and that’s because Stefano (better known as Nonno, which means “grandfather” in Italian), Marie, and their two children have created a reputation through hard work and passion for Italian food. Nonno Stefano first introduced Central Florida to his homestyle recipes through his famous stuffed chicken balls, and has since been recognized for awards in numerous publications. With a pinch of passion and a dash of love, Nonno Stefano created the recipe for the most cozy Italian experience in Central Florida — and possibly beyond.