Remember authenticity? A decade ago, it was the bright orange pylon marking the end zone. And thus the adulation for Cathy Whims' Italian bistro.
But the goalposts have moved—today's hottest restaurants tend to borrow and remix. But Nostrana is a classic, focused on authentic Piedmontese custard and thin but springy Neapolitan pizzas you snip up with scissors.
This cavernous space on the corner of a Buckman strip mall also takes wine very seriously, hiring a dedicated sommelier for evening service and maintaining a list that features spumante and orange wine. In fact, our server at lunch knew the wine program better than many beverage directors, giving interesting and informative notes on a $37 bottle of Saetti Rosso Viola. The salads, pastas and pizzas all show a steady, restrained fine-touching that delights traditionalists.
Eat: The house salad ($11), with radicchio, Parmesan and Caesar-style dressing, is great, as is the simple margherita pizza ($12).
Drink: Vino. Ask your server for recommendations or take advantage of the somm.
Most popular dish: Insalata Nostrana, which is radicchio, Parmigiano, rosemary, and sage croutons in a Caesar-style dressing.
Noise level: 50/100
Expected wait: None at lunch, usually not much at dinner.
Who you'll eat with: Boomers and wine people.
Year opened: 2005