If you don’t visit Nonni’s Corner Trattoria in Grove City, you are robbing yourself of an experience you absolutely have to have. I say this unequivocally, resolutely, with no room for argument, debate, or questioning.
Restaurants can offer lots of things — outstanding themes, beautiful atmospheres and décor, creative menus, and memorable moments.
But what Nonni’s does so simply is one of the hardest and complex things to do in the restaurant industry: it literally feels like you are in an Italian grandmother’s house for a family dinner.
At no point in our eight-plus hours filming, interviewing, and experiencing one of the best Italian/Sicilian meals I’ll ever have did I feel like I was in a restaurant. I felt like it was Christmas, and my grandparents, family, aunts and uncles, and everyone else were all together to celebrate.
If you have ever had an Italian family gathering, or gotten together with loved ones around the holidays, you’ll understand the first time you sit down for some outstanding and rather large plates of pasta: You can search the entire state, and you’ll be lucky if you find a handful of places that can make you feel at home the way the Valenzas do in Grove City.
Honestly, they could serve the worst food in the world, and I would still return time and time again for that feeling. Thankfully, you’re never going to find anything less than perfectly delicious meals coming out of that kitchen.
Nonni’s was one of the first restaurants where we got the full kitchen experience: I was able to assist (well, watch and make plenty of observations on-camera, while staying out of the master’s way) as David went through the process of making two styles of their homemade pasta, the traditional type and a spinach pasta.
Let me say that for someone who has cooked his fair share of store-bought, boxed pasta, there is no comparison to the product David creates back in the kitchen. It was a blast watching the work that went into making the mountains of pasta that everyone enjoys each day there.
Like I said in the episode, I have heard more chefs than not sternly state that what they do is not a form of art. After watching David work, I would strongly disagree.
We got to eat a bunch of the finished product as well, and man, did we eat. You’ll see in the episode the literal feast that got laid out for us, and while I can’t speak for Mike and Greg, I can firmly attest to the fact that I did not eat the rest of the evening, the next morning, or for lunch the next day.
And I do not regret it for a second.
The spinach and garlic pasta is the single-best Italian dish I’ve eaten at any restaurant, hands down. The lamb they brought out was tender, and marinated to perfection. The food was so good that Mike broke out in song before starting dessert!
The after-credits bonus shot is of Greg saying “Now comes the part of the episode where we nap,” but naptime didn’t happen, because as we finished our meal, the restaurant came alive. The place was packed, and not a single person didn’t look like they were having an outstanding time there. By the time Nonni herself arrived from church to walk around and personally greet ever patron, the only empty seats were the two holding our camera equipment, and every person there had a chance to speak with the grandmother whose family offers an experience unparalleled in Mercer County.
If you want to experience a true Sicilian atmosphere, and instead of eating at a restaurant, feel like you’re at a dinner table with 50+ other members of the same family in the same home, there’s one place you should already be heading to.
And that’s Nonni’s Corner Trattoria.
View the full episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm64KW6Ix2U
- Dan Kitchen