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Nona Mia (Asheville) - inexpensive Italian

I was surprised when a friend (born and raised in Italy) said this was one of her favorite Italian American restaurants in the Asheville area. She added that there are NO good Italian restaurants in Asheville (which I agree with) and had tried the new Sugo once and wasn't that impressed but was willing to give it another shot.
Anyway, she liked the pasta dishes at Nona Mia, though most of what I have read tends to be about how good the pizza is.
We went there recently...
This is a small (seating for about 25-30) place in a strip of shops off Patton Ave next to a Radio Shack. Exposed duct work and cement floors make it a noisy dining experience. I think the walls were a tobacco color and I like that but it does make the place rather dim. Some issues with service...no one knew what a Malbec wine was (even though it was on their menu) and had to ask for silverware, otherwise very friendly.
Had calamari app - nice texture and the dipping sauce was kind of a cross between tzatziki (sp?) and and aioli instead of the ubiquitous marinara sauce. Had the farmer's pizza which was a very homespun square pizza made with delicious bread dough with spinach, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and olives...yumm...even good cold the next day.
1app, 1 cup soup, 1 pizza, 1 wine and 1 beer - $37 (not incl tip) - plenty of food.

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  1. Thanks for the detailed review, Leah. How do I get there if I'm coming from Hendersonville?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jeff C.

      take the 19/23/patton av west exit from i240 (it's the one that exits to the left). nona mia will be a short distance (1/8 mi?) from the off ramp. it's on the right, just past blockbuster and across from arby's.

      please give your feedback if you go, especially if you get a pasta dish. the pizza is good, but the pasta i've had has been fair to bad; i'm hoping they've improved it, but not willing to find out after my past experiences.

      1. re: mark

        Ouch. Not sure I should risk the pasta after that resounding pan--West First has me spoiled when is comes to fresh pasta anyway.

        Which of their pizzas have you tried and liked, Mark?

        1. re: Jeff C.

          They have three pizzas - cheese, a sausage (with carmelized onions and roasted red peppers) and the farmhouse (spinach, goat cheese, garlic, tomatoes but no sauce). And build-your-own from a list of toppings. We have tried it twice. The first one was great - we got the sausage - but there was no sauce on it. It was still really good, but we love marinara, so we were a little bummed. The second time we ordered, I made sure to ask if there was supposed to be sauce on the pizza (if not, we were going to order some on the side), and they said yes. However, when we got home...no sauce. Still good, but a little overcooked this time. Not as cheesy and bubbly as the first (which truly was almost in the to-die-for category).

          We also tried a calzone which I do not recommend. WAY too much ricotta and not enough of the other filling. I love cheese, and this was way over the top. Also, no sauce.

          We will definitely try it again (making sure we get that yummy red sauce), but will stick with the pizza. I want to try the farmhouse with some sides of marinara for dipping.

          1. re: Jeff C.

            i tried the sausage pie, which also has red peppers. i found the quantity and sweetness of the peppers overwhelmed the other ingredients. since then, i've taken the build-your-own approach and stuck to more savory toppings. my usual is either pepperoni or sausage, cherry peppers and roasted garlic. they tend to be a bit on the conservative side with toppings, which may account for miss piggy's sauce dilemmas. i, too, was not overly impressed with the calzone. in nona mia's defense, i will add that my wife really liked the eggplant parm she had there. the problem i've found with the pastas is that they use dried noodles that are combined with the sauce just before serving; the dish never melds, although the leftovers have been vast improvements as the flavors mingle.

            1. re: mark

              Hmmm...am now having second thoughts about Nona Mia. (With the ever-increasing cost of gas and the time it now takes to drive I-26 to Asheville, it's becoming harder and harder to stomach mediocre food.)

              1. re: Jeff C.

                As you said, with West First nearby...why travel? Scott said the guy who makes the pasta just sort of wandered in , looking for a job. He wasn't even planning to have pasta on the menu. Apparently Scott is his own vortex of goodness.

      2. We just ate here last night. I could not believe how packed it was, at one point all the tables were full and there were 20, yes I counted, 20, people waiting to be seated in this small restaurant. On top of that, the kitchen was slow because of the huge number of take out orders being filled. Anyway, our service was very poor, no water for 15 minutes and asking twice. The waiter was incredibly forgetful, but the place was packed, so I can understand. Food was mediocre. Sausage pizza was alright, not remarkable. Meatball sandwich , really good meatballs, but the bread was just massive, focaccia allegedly, making it impossible to eat. However, it was served with a really delightful pasta salad with cucumber, chick peas and balsamic.

        5 Replies
        1. re: charlottecooks

          Does anyone know if this place is still open? I had a friend try to go there last week and it wasn't open.

          1. re: leanpig

            I know that originally they were open Wednesday through Saturday, but we haven't been in several months, so I'm not sure if they are still open for business.

            1. re: stephw1

              we drove by last night and they looked to be open w/ cars out front - but I would call.

              1. re: leahinsc

                Thanks. My friends must have just gone on a night they were closed.

            2. re: leanpig

              I'm pretty sure they have changed their hours to Monday thru Friday, for both lunch and dinner. They do catering too and are into the busy summer season. Call to be sure ~ 828.505.2029.

          2. I ate at Nona Mia today for lunch. The service was a little slow considering the place was not packed, but everyone was very helpful and friendly. The food was great! I had a sort of crispy chicken salad which was probably the best salad I've ever had. The chicken was unlike any I have had but delicious (think very crispy outside yet tender). Others in my group had the pepperoni pizza, a balsamic chicken sandwich, and a veggie sandwich. The pizza was reportedly very good, and the sandwiches looked awesome. Everyone seemed to like the pasta salad served with the sandwiches. I will definitely go there again.

            1. I've been several times, but only for lunch. I've always been pleased with what I get (especially for the price). My favorite is the grilled salmon salad. Nice piece of fish served over an interesting and fresh salad. Service has always been prompt, but I can only imagine how it might be with 20 people waiting for a table! Yikes! I have had a bite of other peoples food. The chicken parmesan was good, the pasta that was served with it was al dente. And, I also had a bite of the pasta with grandma's gravy (I think that's what it was called), it was really complex and wonderful. I definitely recommend giving Nona Mia a try.

              1. Though I've not had pasta or sandwhiches at Nona Mia, I can attest to the amazing pizza. We often get take out, a ceasar salad (homemade dressing) and a farmhouse pizza, with this, we have filled 4 adults. The price? A mere $25 bucks. For me this is the best place to satisfy a pizza craving in WNC.

                1. My GF and I were there Friday night. They were busy and accommodating waiting patrons with bruschetta and water. We had a very attentive waitress and the food was delicious. I very much recommend this place.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jbyoga

                    Ciaohounds! Well, just an update to say that the White bean, kale, smoked mozz, and shittake pizza at Nona Mia is just killer. If you've still not eaten here make it a plan to soon. Really just such a great place and we're lucky to have them in Asheville!

                  2. Best italian Nona Mia-Asheville at any price
                    As a recent transplant to Asheville from SF Bay area
                    I tried other Italian restaurants, Vinnies, Marcos's
                    Nona Mia is hands down and by far the Best, Great pasta , chicken ,salads and Pizza
                    Vinnies should be a 1/3 as good
                    In fact Nona Mia should be on anybody's top ten