Nostra Cucina

To find an Italian restaurant in KW is no easy feat. By that, I mean places with sole Italian focus and not just a random pizzeria or one with pasta on the menu (Flying Dog, Symposium). Other than pasta house Ennio’s, Italian-Mediterranean Del Dente, and Italian deli Mambella’s, (not considering the world’s largest East Side Mario’s) Italian restaurants are definitely scarce in this region. I would say that one of the best would probably be Casa Rugantino in Belmont Village.

That was before I tried Nostra Cucina.

We had a hard time trying to find Nostra Cucina. After circling the google-mapped area a couple times, we realized that it has been semi-camouflaged within a row of shops in a quiet plaza.

Laugh all you want – we tried entering for dinner from the front door. How could I have forgotten that their dinner “location” is referred to as the back door?!

We make all the food for the Back Door fresh in our own kitchen.  Our pasta is made by hand just like Dina’s Nonna used to do.  All our sauces are made from scratch using the best fresh ingredients.  

Can’t blame me for not realizing, can ya? There should be a huge sign that says –

Here is the gateway to dinner! Don’t worry, trespassing alarms will not go off.

First Impression:

… what is this!?

I was so amused/amazed and tried hard to squish myself into the opposite corner to maximize the angle for this photo. Can someone tell me what the upper door is for?

After entering a second set of doors, we were finally in “the back door”. The atmosphere was calming, contrasting our uneasiness from feeling like we had just barged into a private space from an illegal entrance.

Pumpkins for the fall. Wood plank floors. Warm lighting.

Our server (or maybe the owner) welcomed us warmly and chirped amusingly at how we finally found the right entrance. She probably saw our embarrassing stunt at trying to break open the locked front door.

The front area of the dining section, providing more privacy.

We were led to the back end. It was very quiet for a Friday evening dinner.

This area had brighter lights as compared to the front. Although tables were adjacent, directions of tables are cleverly alternated, meaning the table next to us had their backs against us. How smart is that! I am sure everyone has had experiences of eavesdropping being part of your neighbors’ meal-time conversations when tables are too close to each other. With this arrangement, minimal conversation from our table will be unknowingly forced upon our neighbours, vice versa. Salute!

Our table was beside this, allowing a sneak peak at Nostra Cucina.

Only available till 5pm on Tuesdays/Wednesdays, and 3pm Thursdays/Fridays.

Water has been infused with lemon before served. It was a pleasant citrusy surprise.

On the Table for Maple:

  1. Tuscan Onion Soup ($6)
  2. Rustic 6-piece pizza with add-ons ($12 base price, $3.50 add-ons)
  3. Spaghetti & Meatballs ($16)
  4. Tiramisu & Espresso x2 ($12)

Sweet onion and tomato soup, served over provolone covered grilled bread.

Tasty without falling into the trap of a typical overly-salted onion soup. Each spoonful of cheesy bread and soup teased our appetite for more. Y’s only complaint – the soup was only lukewarm, he would have liked a toastier bowl.

Rustic six-piece pizza with homemade sauce and mozzarella, with chicken and roasted peppers.

When they said six-pieces, what they really meant was twelve – they are huge! I actually prefer restaurants to offer preset combinations for pizza, since add-ons can get pretty pricey. Despite that, the whole grain thin crust pizza was nice and poofy at the edges, providing a contrasting spongy texture to its crisp center. Each mouthful was gooey with cheese and savory with chicken, yet surprisingly not too greasy. Fingers were not drenched in oil!

Question – would you eat pizza with your hands at a classy restaurant, or stay with the fork and knife? I would definitely pick it up and take huge bites at it! Pizza can’t be eaten any other way.

Al dente spaghetti noodles served with our homemade tomato sauce and hand rolled meatballs, topped with parmigiano reggiano.

You have to order this dish.

The difference between homemade v.s. store bought pasta has never tasted so evident. I probably took a little too long for the photos, so the noodles became slightly un-al dente. Nonetheless, I twisted them around my fork and happily had bites after bites. It was just amazing. Two meatballs were definitely too little. C’mon… we need more meatballs!! They are so delicious! After demolishing my meatball, I attempted to steal a quarter of Y’s but failed as he protectively scooped it over to his plate. Sobs, that greedy fella. He just wants that meatball all to himself!

Y could not wait till I was done with the photos and started on the pizza. Another time for emphasis – pizza was huge!

I preferred the pasta but Y thought the pizza was the better choice of the night. Can’t believe that I used to think –

Meh, spaghetti and meatballs, how good can they get? They’re just meatball noodles!

Jeez, I was wrong, so wrong.

However, my server said that the potato gnocchi is not made in-house? Got to verify that with Nostra Cucina though, thought everything is homemade.

Definitely illegal to leave an Italian restaurant without dessert.

Dessert of the day – tiramisu.

Unfortunately, this did not work for us. I could not taste any hint of coffee or rich mascarpone cheese. After a few bites, the buttery cream-covered sponge cakes got to us and we had to surrender. Has yet to find a satisfying tiramisu served in a restaurant. Please let me know if anyone finds one!

Ahh, should have ordered the highly praised canoli!

Oh well, next time I will.

Verdict:

1) $$ for a single dish, slightly pricey but everything homemade
2) Interesting back door concept and classy ambiance
3) Very friendly and welcoming staff
4) Main dishes were outstanding, dessert was slightly disappointing

Nostra Cucina on Urbanspoon

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