Nostrana's staff and menu make a point of letting you know which local farms supplied the food on your plates. That's important, because the plates themselves feel like they're straight out of the Piedmont region.
After 12 years in business, Cathy Whims' busy Italian bistro inside a Buckman strip mall has won a lot of fans. Included among them are the people who get Beard Award ballots—Whims has been nominated for best chef in the region an astonishing six times.
Nostrana succeeds by giving its audience what they want. That starts with a stellar two-page wine list that manages to venture out into orange wines and to the island of Sardinia while also offering up those pricey Ribbon Ridge pinots and a modest $38 bottle of prosecco.
The food is refined and simple, making good use of all that local produce. The radicchio with a Caesar dressing is a longtime favorite, so much so that a salad is actually a happy hour draw at just $5 from 9 pm to close.
The ambience of the room is established in large part by the wood-fired oven cranking out super-soft Neapolitan pies. They're just crispy enough to avoid the soggy center you find on lesser versions and need to be snipped up with the provided scissors. If you want to stray from simplicity, look out for the alla fiamma pizza, which combines tomato, red onion, Mama Lil's peppers, wild oregano, spicy oil and black olives. It's also a great choice for vegetarian diners, since it packs on enough flavor to satisfy any meat eater sharing a slice.
Pro tip: The best day to go is Thursday, when you can get the gnocchi. They're fluffy little clouds in a ragu of beef and pork.