Osteria I Nonni, St. Paul, MN

5forks

InonniName6

981 Sibley Memorial Hwy
Saint Paul, MN 55118
(651) 905-1081

inonnirestaurant.com

Neighborhood: Lilydale, St. Paul
Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$$ – spendy, $31-60
Five Forks = Sets the standard for fine dining in the region and consistently provides superior quality dining

Hours:
Monday through Saturday
Dinning Room Begins Service at 5PM – 10PM
Monday – Friday
Bar Opens at 4PM, 5PM Saturday

HAPPY HOUR:
Available Monday – Friday 4PM – 6PM
Reduced price antipasti
500 ml (17 oz) carafes of house wine $10.00

SPECIAL FEATURES:  

Handicap accessible: Yes
Parking: Private lot
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid friendly: No
Liquor served: Full Bar
Wine List:  Exceptional.  Wine list is mostly Italian and exquisite.
Outdoor seating: Yes
Reservations: Yes

Unique:  Osteria I Nonni serves Roman-inspired cuisine that changes seasonally and is made from scratch by the restaurant’s acclaimed chefs.  They offer house made salumi and spreads, artisan breads, olives, imported Italian cheeses and many more delicacies; even the meat butchering and ham curing is done in-house.  Special events including wine tastings and private dining are available.

Osteria I Nonni is the fine-dining restaurant part of Buon Giorno Italia, and is tucked away in an unassuming small office complex at the front of a gated community.  The market/deli is connected for all of your interesting Italian ingredients as well as a quick, flavorful lunch! 

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Buon Giorno
981 Sibley Memorial Highway
Lilydale, MN 55118
(651) 905-1080
Fax: (651) 905-1082
Hours: Monday to Saturday 10AM to 8PM; Closed Sunday

A friend of mine had recommended this restaurant.  We made a reservation for my birthday and I didn’t realize until we arrived that I had indeed eaten at the market next door a couple of times years ago with business associates over lunch.

delli counter

The interior of the beautiful restaurant has a simple elegance that perfectly complements the style of food.  The bar is nice and was full of patrons, while the dining room felt warm and upscale.  Everything felt truly Italian, from the menu language to the neo-Roman-ruins wall plaster, columns, and unique light fixtures.  Some say that the food is a bit expensive, but we didn’t agree.  For less than $180, including wine, this was very worth it!  Every dish is prepared with ultimate care and passion and it really shows through.  The service and presentation was impeccable.  Our server “Jay” was very knowledgeable and treated each of the guests with class.  We had driven about an hour for an early meal and noticed a comfortable, more mature, elegant crowd.

interior wine display

IMG_1123 patio

It was cool temperatures so we dined indoors, seated with view of the patio.  It looks like it could be a great place to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine while you listen to the waterfall of the man-made lake behind it.

Complimentary Fresh Italian Bread

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Our server also offered us a “shot” of ZUCCA GIALLA e MELA at no charge.

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A butternut squash-apple soup, with wild mushrooms.  I loved this!  Bill doesn’t typically care for mushrooms, but after passing his to me, he managed to enjoy this soup very much!

Bill had ordered the 2008 LA PALAZZETTA, Brunello di Montalcino, Toscana, $95 however we were told it was out of stock.  Jay suggested Gaja’s Tuscan wine, which was very nice option!

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For our meals, Bill and I both agreed on the “DEGUSTAZIONE MENU”, where as you choose one item from antipasti, one item from the primi and also a secondi for a traditional three-course degustazione, $45 per person.  The pricing listed is typical menu fare.  They offer both half or full prices for some entrees.

We started off with (antipasti):  BURRATA alla CAPRESE, ($13)

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Cream filled fresh mozzarella, local tomato, fresh basil, sicilian olive oil.  However, this was not burrata!  I asked the server about it and he apologized for the substitution.  This caprese salad was flavorful, but not what we were hoping for as we both had our hearts set on the soft rich creaminess of burrata.

I chose the GNOCCHI con ZUCCA  (primi) ($12/18)

gnocchi con zucca red kuri squash gnocchi with rosemary galric braised short rib ragu, horseradish, pecorino

Red kuri squash gnocchi with rosemary-garlic braised short rib ragu, horseradish, and pecorino

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The little dumplings were fresh and flavorful, although they were a bit more dense then I prefer.  The short rib ragu was rich and delicious and I was glad I only had a smaller portion.

Bill had the RIGATONCINI al RAGU  ($11/17)

rigatoncini al ragu wild boar mortadella prosciutto bolognese

Wild boar-mortadella-prosciutto bolognese

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He really enjoyed this dish.  The pasta was cooked al dente and it’s sauce was different from the typical red sauce served with pasta.  It seems smoother, meatier, and more mellow typical ragu or sugo.  Bolognese is all about the meat; and this was good!  It is a rich sauce built on a base of onion, carrot and celery, without garlic.  It was fresh and simple without a lot of herbs.

We didn’t try the CALAMARI FRITTI, $13 but we will next time!

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Light fried cape cod squid with lemon and sea salt.  We heard the table mention that it was the best!  Super crisp and light!

Entree (secondi ): 

I opted for the IPPOGLOSSO, ($32)

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Halibut with roasted cauliflower, edamame, parsley puree, and a honey crisp-cucumber salad.

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My camera lighting wasn’t great, but the food sure was!  This dish consisted of super fresh ingredients.  Th chef did a fantastic job on cooking the thick fillet as it was buttery, flaky and simply perfect.  There was a richness from the cauliflower that paired perfectly with the brightness from the parsley.  The texture contrast of the cucumber salad along with the soybeans being offered at the peak of ripening was superb!

Bill went for the ABBACCHIO “SCOTTADITO” ($34)

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Grilled lamb chops with tomato-arugula-pecorino salad, with a lemon-harrisa compound butter.

In Italian the word scottadito means burned fingers.  I believe they chose that name because the lamb chops are so delicious that you can’t resist eating them sizzling hot, while risking burning your fingers.  The fresh salad with spicy arugula paired perfectly with the hard Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk.

Jay presented each of us with a complimentary glass of  the 2008 Vin Santo, San Michele a Torri Colli Centrale, ($75).  Much like a dessert wine, but lighter than a port; a nice finish that appreciated very much!

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Dessert (Dolci): (House Made Dessert), WARM CARROT CAKE, ($7)

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Mascarpone, pecan-praline gelato, candied carrot.  It was my birthday after all!  With that meal I may have typically chosen something a bit more Italian, like the TIRAMISU CLASSICA, but I couldn’t resist the seasonal sound of this dessert.  It truly was to die for!

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A wonderful, rich cup of coffee accompanied our dessert; also at no charge.  A perfect ending to a perfect meal!

We’ll be back!

Bon appetit!
~Chris

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