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May 20, 2011 05:42 PM

Nona Restaurant Review 3397 Yonge Street Toronto, ONM4N

I went to Nona Restaurant on Yonge St., near Melrose Ave on the east side.
I was hoping for some fresh and tasty food and my optimism was rewarded.

Firstly FRESH, FRESH. FRESH. I love it when you can see everything made from scratch.

The falafel is very good. This should not surprise me since they are Israeli but it did a little with spices including cinnamon and cardamom. Crisp and perfectly cooked.

Their hummus is very fresh and on the mild side but prepared with freshly sautéed warm chickpeas added at the last minute to the centre (or fava beans if you prefer) with a generous swirl of EVOO….then the owner/chef dropped off a small dish of lovely olives and pickled cauliflower and a large thimble of yummy and spicy freshly made aioli that when added to the hummus was so delicious. Perfect, this way my kids can have the mild hummus and I can have it very spicy. And very nice portions.

Make sure you are hungry before stopping in. You’ll want to eat it all up.

My spouse ordered the chicken special that came with Nona frites ( carb heaven)…mixed sweet and white potato and onion fries.
It also came with the freshest mixed pepper and tomato, parsley and cucumber salad. A nice counter-lightness to the fries. He said the chicken was so tender and that it had a really tasty rub on the whole breast.

We both had the most tasty lemonade EVER. Minty, with a soft flower essence, maybe orange blossom.
They are LLBO licenced, food is so fresh, ingredients well-paired and the chefs are very kind and jovial. (NICE peeps!!)
My daughter figured that the falafel had cardamom ( something I could taste but not put my finger on) , and the chef/owner rewarded her with some lovely fresh orange slices to go as we were leaving.

Welcome to the neighbourhood. We will become regulars and look forward to their success. It is nice to see such fresh ingredients, a passion for food and restaurant staff who really enjoy feeding people.

Don’t let their unassuming modest look fool you. Just look at the soup special and it should tempt a foodie to try it.
Please visit them and keep them busy. We went for lunch and by 12:30 lots of regulars starting showing.
A welcome addition to the North Toronto strip.
If I could ask for one thing...they create a summer alcoholic beverage using their special lemonade.

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  1. What a nice review, Idas. My son has raved about this place too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Yongeman

      Thanks! I love when modest chefs open a new resto...passion for food and zest for feeding people..reminds me of my dad :)

    2. We had a good experience as well. Got some take-out, wasn't quite ready when I got there so I received a few orange slices as well while I waited. People were very nice, they were more then happy to unwrap the burgers and make some last minute adjustments to the toppings. The burgers were good, cooked well (didn`t think to ask for different) and nicely spiced in a bit of a middle eastern way. Came on crisp triangular buns, like the ace bakery ones the name for which I am forgetting. Made for a high bun to patty ratio, but with the good bun, a tasty sauce and carmelized onions that they put on that wasn`t an issue. I had a minced beef-lamb pita that was excellent with an only moderately hot but very flavourful hot sauce, and was a great value the pita cut in half and both halves stuffed. Also had the nona frites which were delicious and a good salad with feta and cranberries. Will definitely be a regular.

      1. I went to Nona's yesterday for lunch. It's the type of place I really want to like and will definitely go back and try more. I had the hummus with chicken and a side of falafel. Everything was fresh and the falafels and chicken are cooked when ordered, not sitting around, which is always a nice thing. My biggest issue was that everything was flavoured very mildly and had a slightly sweet undertone. The chicken (dark meat, for those who want to know) was covered in a spice rub that was a little too sweet for my taste. The falafels had cardamom or cinnamon, which gave them a flavour profile that I didn't care for (once again, just my personal taste). And the hummus was very mild and was overwhelmed by the flavour of the chicken. There was a very tasty and very garlicky garlic sauce that they gave me that helped give everything a bit more zip.

        So while I thought my meal was prepared with care and with good ingredients, it was missing... something. Honestly, perhaps just a bit more salt in everything would take the flavour profiles up a notch.

        The menu is very reasonably priced and has several lovely looking salads on it. The burgers are made from fresh ground meats, not frozen (they do not grind the meat in house) and cooked on the flat top grill.

        The space has 3 or 4 tables, 4 stools at the bar and several more stools at a counter up against the window.

        I'll be back to try other items and give them another shot.

        5 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          I tried this place a few days ago and also enjoyed their food. I tried the quinoa salad and falafel - both were mildly spiced but I prefer that over the over-salted offerings of other middle eastern places. Whatever salt may have been lacking was made up for by the pickles I got on the side. Guess it's a matter of personal preference but I prefer foods to have less salt to allow the fresh flavours of the ingredients to come through. I don't recall a cardomom-y taste in the falafel, but that may be because I doused it in the garlicky tahini sauce. I appreciated that they make the falafel to order and not have them sitting around precooked. looking at their menu, they were past owners of the Mezzetta on St Clair so I think they have some experience in this industry. I wish them well in this location.

          681 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1A7, CA

          St Clair Restaurant
          69 St Clair St, Chatham, ON N7L3H8, CA

          1. re: berbere

            Did you get the garlic sauce, too? I was given both the tahini and a separate sauce that seemed to consist mostly of finely minced garlic, maybe with little vinegar and sugar. The latter was particularly tasty.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              If there's a decent falafel to be had in my part of town, I'm right there. Turns out Nona isn't strictly a Middle East joint, though. It does burgers, too - doesn't everybody nowadays? Even though there's a fancy burger bistro just a few doors away. Now, that's tempting fate in a location that has been the death of several take-out spots over the past few years, most recently a dismal Portuguese chicken take-out.

              But just about everything else - the salads, the falafel, the sandwiches - are at least vaguely Middle East. As has been noted, it's mainly set up for takeaway, but there are a few tables and counter spaces for eat-in. Hummus is featured as a main dish, though I regard hummus as little more than a dip, a little appetizer. Soup, good, priced at $3.95 and $5.95 for the same portion, depending on what other dish you order. Mind, it's unclear what those dishes might be. Baffling. I think they'll settle eventually on one price, to prevent annoying the customers who don't fathom such arcane rules.

              However, I was there for the falafel which, as advertised, is fried fresh upon ordering - a refreshing change from most downtown falafels. Good, if mightily underseasoned for my taste. Certainly better than the dreary Middle East fast-food joint several blocks south on Yonge Street. I still lean towards the more zingy falafel at Tov Li, a 5-10-minute drive away on Bathurst Street, where it's also fresh fried, and comes with a load of tasty free salads and pickled veggie toppings. The veggies added at Nona are comparatively mingy. But Tov Li is most often a pushing, shoving madhouse. I'd much rather browse on my Tov Li falafel at Nona which, though utilitarian, has a more restful vibe, with a pleasant old-pro proprietor on the premises - and good, jazzy background music, a first for a Middle East eatery. Though a bit more zip, and garlic, and veggies on the falafel, would be appreciated.

              Prices are standard for this high-rent strip of Yonge. I hope the place makes it, but those Yonge Street rents can kill you before you catch on with the neighborhood, which doesn't take too quickly to small-time startups.

              1. re: juno

                juno, have you ever tried the falafel at Yakamoz? They also fry to order and have a lot of great toppings that they will pile on generously when asked. The coleslaw and the fried eggplant are my favourite toppings. I've only had the shawarma there and need to try the falafel one of these days. But it's hard for me to pass up on the crispy chicken edges, which I can only get if I time my visit properly!

                Yakamoz is a minute or two closer and never has the madhouse crowds of Tov Li. *And* you don't have to pay for parking or worry about getting a ticket!

                373 Wilson Ave, Toronto, ON M3H1T3, CA

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  I've been aware of Yakamoz, on Wilson Ave. just west of Bathurst St., almost since it opened some years ago - indeed, I was probably tipped off to it on Chowhound. But it has been a couple of years since I ventured in to partake of its pretty good chicken shawarma and reasonably good falafel. That's because it was getting kinda grungy in that dinky little joint and I'm waiting till someone tells me Yakamoz has cleaned up its act before I poke my nose in again. Agreed, you can't eat decor, but there's only so much seediness this neat freak will sit still for. In retrospect, I recall the toppings on their sandwiches to be strong (stronger than Nona, the topic of this thread), but not near the range of free, tasty and fresh toppings at Tov Li.

                  For your amusement:: nobody worries about parking around Tov Li. And nobody pays to park around there either. The noshers merely park as close as they can to Tov Li, ignore the meters and NO PARKING signs - and march in for their falafel fix. And I've never seen anyone ever get a ticket around there. I suspect no traffic cop would be foolish enough to issue one if he doesn't want the exceedingly disputatious Tov Li crowd - who can survey the parking scene from Tov Li's picture windows - to descend upon him with a view to debating the situation.

                  373 Wilson Ave, Toronto, ON M3H1T3, CA

        2. Thanks for the tip! Went today with friends. We all loved it. Food is fresh and delish and made with such care. Owner and staff are soooo nice. Will definitely be going back soon.

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