Assuming all goes well with nailing down the liquor license, we can expect to see Little Nonna’s — the newest from 13th Street kingpins Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran — open for business on Sept. 4. Between closing Lolita for renovation, perfecting recipes, processing paperwork and training the staff, Chef Turney found time to chat with us about the neighborhood, the pressure — and the cronuts.
It seems like everyone’s waiting to see what Little Nonna’s will be like. Is that added pressure or more of a challenge?
I love a good challenge, but your ego can’t be too big. There’s always a sense of confidence and a sense of reality, really. We don’t take anything for granted. We’ve had successes and had things that needed to change. We try to learn from our mistakes.
Out of all the businesses that you and Valerie own on 13th Street, could you pick a favorite?
They’re all different. I love the energy at Barbuzzo. I love that you open the door and it’s just crazy going in — the line is getting their butts whooped but they’re awesome. There’s a cool sense of family. Then of course, Lolita, which is my oldest. I love 'em all from start to finish.
How do you feel about this whole cronut craze that’s making its way into Philly?
Of course we said, "Why didn’t we think of that?" We’ve been selling the frozen budino pops at Verde and there was a line outside the other day. It wasn’t cronut crazy, but we had 300 pops and sold out in an hour and a half. But I got to give credit to Valerie for that one. She’s the one who thought to freeze them.
You guys have pastry chef Sara May from Franklin Fountain making desserts at Little Nonna’s. That’s impressive. Who approached who?
I put an ad up on Craigslist, so we joke that Craig brought us together. My ad was pretty straightforward. I want desserts that people look at and want to eat immediately. Things that look great and taste even better. As soon as we went to Franklin Fountain we saw photos of desserts she made and I said, "That’s my girl."