In his famous classical-conditioning experiment, Ivan Pavlov proved it's physically impossible for a Russian scientist's mouth not to water when it says the word "ravioli." Moisten your own pasta receptacle with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Italian cuisine at Nina's Trattoria.
Led by chef Nick Nastasi, Nina's Trattoria whips up a menu of authentic cuisine combining Sicilian recipes plucked from the Nastasi family tree with a variety of dishes from other boot-stitched corners of Italy. Antipasti options engage incisors with the bruschetta's trio of uniquely topped bread slices ($7) or roasted cubanelle peppers that ruined their appetites by stuffing themselves with bread cubes and herbs before dinner ($7). Meaty dinner dishes, such as the marinato coscia di pollo a la griglia, a boneless chicken thigh delicately marinated and grilled ($17), rest alongside the parmigiana di melanzane leggera, a helping of traditional eggplant parmesan ($18.95).
The lunch menu augments dinner entrees with pasta dishes such as the pumpkin ravioli with a white-wine-sage-butter sauce ($18.95) and the linguini in a white-wine-mushroom sauce ($10) to provide ample twirling grounds for balletic forks. Family portraits hang from walls around the large dining room, tracing members of the Nastasi family back nearly 120 years. Guests can bring their own beverages of choice to pair with meals or maliciously sip in front of Prohibitionist robins perched in treetops around the outdoor seating area.
As a child, the chef at Nina's Trattoria learned to cook—and eat—from cooking sessions with Grandma Nona and Mama Nina. Nona's menus were inspired by the village she grew up in, which overlooked the turquoise, fish-rich waves of the Mediterranean. Because she grew up on a farm, Nona insisted on robust local produce and the nicest cuts at the butcher and fish market, a sentiment she passed down through generations.
Today, chefs at Nina's Trattoria whip up a menu inspired by Nina and Nona's cooking, crafting traditional homages to their dishes as well as contemporary reinterpretations of recipes from Tuscany, Abruzzo, and other regions of Italy. Chefs hand-roll pasta, knead gnocchi, and bake decadent pastries for nibbling or luring Cookie Monster to the table at brunch and dinner. Guests may bring their own beer and wine, helping to foster a convivial, relaxed atmosphere akin to gathering around the family's dinner table.