From Our Editors
The opening of I Nonni in 2001 was so significant that Heavy Table marked it as an important moment in its "Timeline of Italian Food in Minnesota". According to the site, the restaurant wound up "reshaping how Minnesota thought about Italian food" by taking the focus off starchy pasta dishes and focusing on meats and seafood. Groundbreaking as it's been, I Nonni is still plenty traditional: its name translates to grandparents, and moniker meant to honor the recipes and the old-world style of the owners' ancestors. Here's how you can benefit from their heritage.
I Nonni's menu changes with the seasons, rotating through old-world classics depending on what's available. But here, "old world" reaches past dime-a-dozen dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmiagiana. Instead, you'll find tagliatelle infused with lemon, or squid ink pasta tossed with chilies and gulf shrimp. One traditional dish that's favored by the press when it's available is the osso bucco. Per City Pages: "The tenderness of the braised meat, the rich, buttery marrow you scooped from the bone with a tiny spoon. It's one of those meals that makes it difficult to order anything else on the menu."
Critic RIck Nelson told the Star Tribune that I Nonni "kind of screams 'romance' to me." And he's not the only one. Though the slate floors and minimalist architecture are modern, vaulted ceilings recall old Italy and low lights urge diners to gaze into their companion's eyes. The Tuscan-style patio overlooks a small waterfall, and private dinners can be held in the stone-lined wine cellar.