Just Desserts – Casa Nonna

I was thrilled when Nikki Rappaport and Thrifty DC Cook suggested a dessert happy hour as an alternative to the typical drinks and small bites post-work get togethers. Despite my allergy to chocolate which limits my dessert options rather drastically, I have quite the sweet tooth. But I’ll usually too full after appetizers and entrees to order anything else. So I thought it was pretty awesome to indulge in an entire sugary meal with friends and fellow foodies. Our first stop: a sweet taste of Italy with Casa Nonna.

In the kitchen of BLT Restaurant Groups‘ modern Italian outpost is executive chef Amy Brandwein, whose first restaurant job was at the pastry station at the late Galileo downtown. So you’d expect her to make a good dessert right? And she does. But coming from the land of pots de crème, savarins, tartes tatins, clafoutis and soufflés (and the list goes on and on), I tend to be a very tough critic and to find that Italian desserts, in general, just do not have the sophistication of their French counterparts. Mi dispiace for being a huge French snob 😉

From left to right: Panna Cotta, bomboloni and Sicilian cannoli.
Overall, the desserts we tried were good, though fairly typical for an Italian restaurant. A few of them stood out for being slightly more original. The Bomboloni, for one, was terrific. The dessert consists of five doughnut-like balls, soaked in limoncello liquor, fried to order and dressed up with candied lemon peel and mini-meringues. I mean, donuts + alcohol. You cannot beat this dessert! The other dessert that really stood out was the panna cotta, which is served inside a dish, instead of being turned out of the ramakin. The top of the panna cotta was layered with a sweet balsamic sauce and slices of fruit. On the other hand, I was disappointed by the tiramisu. Typically, it’s one of the few dessert with chocolate that I can actually eat. But in the case of Casa Nonna‘s, I just couldn’t get over the overwhelming and overpowering first layer of chocolate powder. Perhaps a chocolate lover would have appreciated it a little bit more…
Casa Nonna was a great restaurant to kick off our Just Dessert tour. I do recommend that the time you’re at the Dupont Circle establishment for dinner (or lunch) you go easy on the family style portion and save a little room for dessert… especially the bomboloni! Meanwhile, tonight, we will be visiting Againn in downtown DC for a taste of the UK. Any must have desserts there??

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