There’s no firm opening date for Little Nonna’s, the latest from Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney, the couple behind Barbuzzo, Jamonera and others, and we’re starting to get a little impatient for our first taste of the pair’s home-style Italian cuisine. Fortunately, their team reassures us the cozy new spot — 38 seats inside, 38 seats out back — will open at the end of the month, with city paperwork being the only holdup.
At least we still have Lolita’s, their Mexican BYBO: It was slated to close for renovations the end of July, but will continue serving up the signature carne asada and fruity tequila mixers through next week.
Little Nonna’s is at 1234 Locust St., a few blocks away from Safran and Turney’s six other restaurants and shops lining 13th Street between Chestnut and Sansom. The location had briefly been Fish, when Fish moved over from its larger corner spot to make room for Rhino Bar in the bigger space — which Gayborhood residents probably remember best as Bump.
“It’s confusing,” Safran says. “People didn’t even realize that smaller space was there.”
They’re sure to realize now, when Little Nonna’s starts dishing out gravy-doused, Italian grandma-approved dishes crafted by Chef Turner. Safran, who handles the business side of things, envisions Little Nonna’s as “easy and good.”
“It’ll have a casual vibe,” she says. “Our dining philosophy is we’d rather eat out two or three times a week than once a month, and not have to spend crazy amounts of money to have a fresh meal.”
Tacos and tamales
The dining philosophy Safran describes at Little Nonna’s is behind the Lolita’s renovation, too. Safran and Turney opened the popular spot — their first restaurant venture — in 2004.
“The food [at Lolita’s] is more of what it was 10 years ago — you get the protein, vegetable, starch all on one plate, with the price in the $20 range. It’ll be a different format — more Mexican street food. We want to be able to order four or five things, rather than commit,” Safran says. “Lolita’s has been our baby for a long time. It’s exciting to reinvent it.”
And yes, to answer your question: It’s getting a liquor license.