Confession: I have a secret fantasy where I have my own little Italian grandma cook just for me. She'd only use the best, freshest ingredients and make every sauce from scratch. She'd handmade pasta like tagliatelle, rigatoni, and lasagna. She'd hammer out perfect chicken cutlets, bread them and fry them into savory chicken parmigiana. She'd bake me amazing Neapolitan-style pizzas with imported buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto which had a light, airy crust. She'd press gorgeous panini sandwiches for me made with crispy, Tuscan bread. And in fact, if I am taking the fantasy all the way, she'd make so much amazing food that she'd even package it to-go if I wanted. And she'd do it with love.
Well she may not be my exclusive cook nor my grandma but "Nonna" (Italian for grandmother) Anna is an honest-to-goodness Italian grandma making artisan-quality Italian food at Nonna's Family Kitchen out a tiny space in the PREP Commercial Kitchen complex near Spaghetti Junction. And she's all yours—all you have to do is go see her.
The recipes are from Anna's mom and her son, Rick Herbst, a successful actor for years (including a long stint on General Hospital) runs the business side of the operation to bring nonna's recipes to the world. Rick's sons are also in the mix, making the restaurant a multi-generational effort with the family obsessing over every morsel they serve. Back behind a small counter, the family kneads the pizza dough, rolls the pasta, stirs the sauces—all with Nonna lovingly directing the operation. I tried the tagliatelle pasta (fresh ribbons of buttery pasta), angel hair pasta (thin, delicate spaghetti) pork meatballs, the Caprese panini, prosciutto pizza and chicken parmigiana. It was "amore" all the way. But don't expect much for a fine dining atmosphere--there are no tables except a couple outside the space under the overhang…it's more like fine dining Italian without the white table cloth.
If you haven't been to the PREP campus yet, set your GPS and go. Besides a multitude of ghost kitchens and good truck commissaries, the campus features wonderful hidden gems for artisan-quality restaurants operating out of the proverbial hole in the wall. Hot Chick Peas, Java Saga, Raul's Latin Kitchen, and The Little Farmhouse Café are all top-tier spots and with Nonna's, it's becoming its own mini Buford Highway of top-shelf international cuisine.