Nonna is the Italian word for grandmother. The full expression of love is through the food cooked by grandmothers.
From Humble Beginnings
Tucked away in an unsuspecting corner of Main Street, Nonna Urban Eatery doesn’t have the bustling activity or loud music typical of Scottsdale restaurants. But that’s because it’s not like most spots in Old Town.
With a quiet demeanor and simple décor, Nonna feels warm and welcoming from the first foot in the door. It’s not a large place- in fact, it’s quite small with only a few tables spread out and stools lining the bar. But small and intimate is exactly what owners and husband and wife duo chef Gian Franco Brugaletta and Valentina Huerta wanted for their passion project.
Their story is one of travel and adventure, having spent time in many corners of the world, they wanted to bring their love of food to one place. Valentina speaks warmly of the decision to settle down in Scottsdale. “Most of our life together has been apart. In order to be together, we created Nonna.”
Creating Something Authentic
When Chef Gian Franco was still working in a restaurant in Monaco, Valentina got down to business in Scottsdale finding the perfect location for Nonna. When a for sale sign caught her eye, she saw tremendous potential in the small space. “It was an unpretentious nook but it felt like home and that’s what I wanted.” When creating Nonna, they pulled inspiration from all corners of their own experiences; fine dining with a creative flair, a blend of traditional and infusion, and the freshest ingredients.
Their space has an open concept kitchen, so people can really see how the food is prepared. Chef Gian Franco wanted to use the open concept kitchen as an opportunity to educate people on where their food comes from and how it’s prepared in its place of origin. “Education is a huge part of the experience.” He says.
As first-time entrepreneurs, opening a new restaurant in a foodie town did not come without challenges, but Valentina has clear goals for Nonna – to be known for 1 or 2 things that people simply cannot live without. To create authentic food, to use local ingredients, to make people feel at home.
Their food is warm, inviting, and sumptuous. Homemade pasta dishes share menu space with fresh sushi, chicken Milanese, thinly shaved prosciutto, and unique small plates. And don’t worry about what to pair with your meal – fine wines, craft beers, and creative cocktails are plentiful and handpicked by Valentina herself.
It’s no surprise why each item on the menu is exceptional. Chef ensures most of his ingredients come from local vendors, farmers, and butchers. It’s important to both of them to be deeply invested in their community, to share challenges and successes with other small business owners, and to support each other. “Locals really push to work together, it’s just expected and that’s uncommon in other parts of the world.”
Nonna is a place where you can be from anywhere, you can bring your culture and experiences to the table and be welcomed.
A Community for Everyone
Neither Chef or Valentina are originally from Arizona – in fact, neither are from the United States, so I had to pose the questions, “Why here?” As it turns out, both have been visiting Arizona for many years, simply because they love it. “The United States has so many opportunities and it’s not too complicated to be an entrepreneur,” explains Chef. They both speak to the quality of life being exceptionally good, people are so happy and positive and because there is so much diversity, they have found people to be incredibly welcoming. With more small business owners choosing Arizona, it has become a space for people to follow their dreams, to be welcomed into the community, and to connect with others.
So what does the future hold for them? “There is only one Nonna,” Valentina laughs, “but possibly there will be other concepts.” For Chef, he just wants to continue doing what he does so well. To see his patrons enjoy his food, to want to learn more, to come together at the table. “Even in stress,” he says, “I’m just happy.”
Nonna Urban Eatery
7240 E Main St