Back lit cocktail - North and Navy
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North & Navy – Sunday Gravy at NoNa’s

Address: 226 Nepean St, Ottawa
Hours: 5pm – 10pm (Mon – Sat); 4:30pm – 9:30pm (Sun)
Website: https://northandnavy.com/

 

When looking for a nice place to go out for dinner, and to pare back my seemingly endless list of places to try out, my wife and I went to North & Navy to get our fix of Italian eats.

Shoehorned in between a couple of forgettable mid-century office and apartment buildings on Nepean, we almost passed by the entrance. The interior of the red brick walk-up is well-kept and quaintly adorned with some maps, paintings and worn china cabinets – enough to give it some soul, without being tacky. We were seated at a booth, which I relished, as I usually lose out on it to my wife when there’s just a banquette and chair.

Decanter - North and Navy

Wine time!

I had scoped out their menu online beforehand, and liked their take on northern Italian food with Ontarian ingredients. While I noticed that they had a “Sundays with NoNa” menu, I assumed that this was available in addition to the regular menu. Well, you know what they say happens when you assume.

The punny Sunday menu is in fact a pared-down version of the regular menu, losing the fancier, comparably less approachable dishes in favour of the Italian-American dishes like Sunday gravy (red sauce with spaghetti and meat), eggplant parm, meatballs, and garlic bread. The relaxed menu lends itself to a more relaxed crowd, and while there were other dressed up couples like ourselves, there were a few families there as well – something I feel isn’t all that common on a Friday or Saturday night.

After some suggestions from our waiter, we quickly decided what to order. The “FEED ME” was the easy choice for me; comprised of that day’s Sunday gravy of spaghetti, pork belly and fennel sausage, along with half of the appetizer menu (mixed salad, olives, garlic bread, zucchini, and capicolla). At $38 it was an incredible deal (this is now $46). My menu-regret was about to be washed away in a sea of reasonably-priced Italian comfort food.

Olives are one of the few foods that are just a no-go for me, but luckily my wife loves them, so they were unceremoniously shoved to her side of the table.

Mixed salad - North and Navy

Insalata mista

The mixed salad was a good size, and comprised of radicchio, some sad iceberg lettuce, a perfectly boiled egg, flat leaf parsley and thin strips of white onion. Lightly dressed in a vinaigrette, it was a mix of tangy and sweet, a nice way to start the Sunday feast.

The remaining apps came hard and fast – unctuous capicola, roasted zucchini coins with an aged cheese on top, buttery and garlicky bread – what wasn’t to like?

There was a bit of a lull between the end of our apps and the arrival of our mains but not an awkwardly-checking-your-watch-and-looking-around-constantly kind of wait. We were unhurried, and enjoying our night and the food, so the time passed quickly.

Meatballs and spaghetti - North and Navy

NoNa loves you

Despite the plentiful appetizers, I still had lots of room for my main course, especially once I saw it. Thick strands of spaghetti were perfectly coated in a hearty tomato sauce, dotted with slices of fennel sausage, and a generous slice of roasted pork belly perched on top – all with a coating of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, of course.

The sauce was a perfect consistency, bright and flavourful, with just enough acidity to balance the other rich ingredients. I liked the choice of the pork belly, as it had enough fat to be rich and a little indulgent, but not so much that it gave you the feeling that you were chewing the trimmings from a steak. The fennel sausage added a deeper pork flavour, as well as the herbiness of its seasonings.

Tiramisu - North and Navy

We somehow had room for dessert, and although their Sunday dessert menu is just as compact as the rest of menu, the tiramisu ($9) was a must for my wife. Light and airy, creamy and rich, and with just the right amount of coffee flavour – it was a big success.

Service was very easy-going and friendly, but also knowledgeable, and for the most part well-timed.

The food options hadn’t been what I expected going in, but we were very happy nonetheless. If North & Navy can pull off the simple stuff this well, we’re looking forward to returning and trying out the regular menu.

 

To be continued!

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