Nook - Quality Italian Food


When dining at a new restaurant, one of my first question and observation is, "How long do I think this restaurant will survive?". I understand that this sounds so negative of me. But I feel it is a more a reality. If you look around the city there are new restaurants coming up, but for every new restaurant about 70% fail within 3 years of opening. Pretty scary when you consider the cost of of opening a new restaurant at between 40k-2million. Seems like a lot of wasted resources.

So i digress, but going to a new restaurant can be like going on a first date. Sometimes it can be a blind date when you know nothing about a place. You never really know how it is going to turn out. You always hope for the best but try to prepare yourself for the worst. So whenever I find a new restaurant I like, I get really excited and cant wait to go back. Hence, I get disappointed when I learn they have closed their doors.
Nook joins the new trend of restaurant that are offering choices for diners that like to eat well without having to take a mortgage. It is run and operated by the same same folks at Tapastree. Was there a couple of months after the opening on a weeknight. Was asked if I had a reservation. He looked surprised when I said i didn't. Waited 10-15 minutes to be seated at the bar. Didn't feel very welcome at the door. Also there wasn't much room for waiting. The restaurant was small, probably a 30+ seats. With an open kitchen, and bar. The space was cosy but a bit cramp, I thought. Room was narrow and small. There is about 5-9 employees total.

Once seated at the bar, the server/bartender was very warm and welcoming. There was some nice conversation at the bar. Same thing I notice at the seats at the kitchen bar(Chef's Table), Chef/Owner/Cook Mike Jeffs was jovial and chatty. During the course of the night we were served slices of their prosciutto and salumi(Oyama) on the house at he bar. The bar also serves as the cold station preparing the salads and plating the desserts as well. The Chef has never been to Italy, but yet his take on Italian cooking is better than most Italian restaurants it town. Using quality ingredients and solid proven cooking techniques, his Italian food is straightforward and unpretentious.

The pricing is affordable. For the price you would be hard pressed to create and cook the same meal at home. Whilst there are no foie grais instead they use chicken livers, not truffle shavings but there are truffles in salami and instead of an 8oz steak they settle on filet mignon meatballs. I have heard conflicting reports regarding whether they make their own pasta. My hunch is that they make their own gnocchi and but buy in their pastas. I did find the menu too heavy on starches (crostini, pasta, pizza). Nook is not a North American Italian restaurants which are normally heavier on the sauces.

Everything about nook is straight forward. From the food, drinks and service. The straight forward casual cooking with the best sourced ingredients falls short of incredible. I love sparse seasoning and light sauce, just enough to coat the noodles. Like you were to get in Italy. The thin crust pizza was a simple pizza dough with nicely thought out ingredients and the liver crostini was delicious. The salad were fresh with a rustic feel. The service was inconsistent but very acceptable. Nook has a lot going for it. The pros outweigh the cons. Unlike the many failed restaurant ventures, Nook is a well thought out restaurant that will remain in business for while.


Pros:
Reasonable priced
Good ingredients

Cons:
Small space and a tad cramp

Food 7
Service 6
Overall 7
Value 7.5

Nook on Urbanspoon

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