Piccolo Sogno Partners to Open Nonnina in Chicago’s River North
From the talented team behind Chicago’s acclaimed Piccolo Sogno comes Nonnina, a new Italian restaurant in Chicago’s River North neighborhood featuring classic and modernized takes on beloved family recipes. As growing restaurateurs, Partners Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo enter an exciting new chapter bringing in Executive Chef/Partner Chris Macchia and longtime Piccolo Sogno team member Ricardo Brizuela as General Manager/Partner. Nonnina echoes old school cooking techniques inspired by the four partners’ “nonnas,” offering an upscale, yet approachable experience with a retro vibe. The menu, a collaboration between Chef Macchia and Chef Priolo, brings grandma’s recipes to a sleek atmosphere. Appealing to the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, Nonnina also features an adjacent grab-and-go counter service, “Nonnina To Go,” welcoming diners on the move with casual and affordable specialties for lunch and dinner during the week.
"It’s been a true honor for myself and my partner Ciro Longobardo to be part of Chicago’s amazing culinary community for decades now, and restaurateurs for almost 10 years following the opening of Piccolo Sogno,” says Chef Priolo. "We can’t thank our city enough for the love and support of our passions, and the opening of Nonnina, including bringing a new team of partners both front and back of house, is an exciting moment for us.”
An ode to an Italian grandmother’s cooking, Nonnina features a dinner menu with regionally inspired items embracing the theme of simplicity, paying homage to the flavors of timeless Italy. All pastas are made in-house, including extruded pastas, and other specialties are carefully crafted to perfection. Menu features include:
Stuzzichini—Baked Artichokes (Artichoke hearts baked with bread crumbs, garlic, white wine), Arancini Moderno (Three breaded pasta balls with pancetta, peas, béchamel).
Antipasti—Baked Clams (Middle neck clams wood-fired with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, lemon), Ragu della Nonnina (Braised pork ragú over soft polenta, served tableside).
Insalate—Tomato, Gorgonzola DOP + Cipolla Rossa (Mixed tomatoes, oregano, red wine vinegar, Gorgonzola DOP, red onions, olive oil).
Paste—Manicotti (Wood-fired pasta rolled with ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, pesto, béchamel, tomato), Bucatini Carbonara (Hollow spaghetti, egg yolks, pancetta, pecorino, black pepper).
Secondi—Braciole alla Nonnina (Braised IBP beef rolled with pine nuts, raisins and bread crumbs over ricotta gnocchi), Pork Chops “Pepperonata” (Double Niman Ranch pork chop, wood-fired, stewed bell peppers, red onions).
The lunch menu at Nonnina showcases many of the same recipes inspired by grandmothers of generations past, with a casual and efficient feel. Lunch specialties include Meatballs alla Nonnina (three grandma-inspired meatballs, tomato sauce), Linguini Vongole (long thin pasta, Manila clams, garlic, white wine, chili flake parsley), Pizzas including Proscuitto + Mushrooms and Zucchini + Shrimp, and much more. Perfect for a leisurely lunch or a business meeting in the bustling River North neighborhood, the team at Nonnina delivers a new take on the old-school Italian midday meal.
An expansive bar section presents a hip yet welcoming space inviting guests for a bite and drink. The bar menu features homey soups, pizza, sandwiches, and plates like Sausage + Peppers, Tonno + White Bean Pizza, and more. The beverage program, helmed by General Manager/Partner Ricardo Brizuela and overseen by owner Ciro Lognobardo, showcases a global wine list and a cocktail list paying homage to classics, and collaborated on with some of the city’s most well-respected mixologists.
Complementing the full-service Nonnina is “Nonnina To Go,” an adjacent grab-and-go Italian haven ideal for those out and about in the neighborhood during lunch and dinner on weekdays. Bringing a taste of quick, approachable items like freshly-prepared sandwiches, salads, and soups, as well as assorted pre-made Panini, with highlights including: Prosciutto + Buffalo Mozzarella + Melon Salad, Breaded Steak Sandwich, Porchetta Sandwich, and of course, gelato during the summer months.
Inspired by the menu’s elevated take on classic Italy, the interior design of Nonnina captures a cool Italian essence accentuated by dark, sultry elements. Appealing to the new generation of Italian diners, colors and textures like soft velvet and lace, charcoal black and sleek lacquered finishes, and midnight red booths create a classic-chic ambiance throughout. A focal point of the restaurant, the large center bar area showcases a hand-painted mural of the partners’ “nonnas,” highlighted by atmospheric light fixtures and complemented by other fresh elements. Surrounding the bar, the seated dining area features a dark and neutral color palette and playful, yet classic décor. The private dining room beams with personality, including black Andy Warhol art and a flashy neon sign.