The NoMad hotel has always been one of my favorite spots to hang out so long as the crowd situation doesn’t get out of control. The NoMad restaurant has long been one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and I have really loved the cocktail offerings from the Nomad Bar adjacent to the restaurant (it’s too bad that the library bar, which is one of my favorite hang-out spots in NYC period, is now closed only to hotel guests). When it was announced in the fall that the Nomad Bar will have a red sauce Italian-American pop-up dinner event every Sunday, I was immediately hooked. The event, called Mamma Guidara’s, was based on the co-owner Will Guidara’s parents’ Italian-American roots. I already love the other restaurants from the NoMad team (including, of course, Eleven Madison Park), so I naturally assumed that this pop-up would really set the bar on how Italian-American should be done right. Overall, I had a pleasant meal but there were some hits and misses.
The dinner has one prix fixe menu at $68 per person. For that money, you are getting a ton of food, starting with an assortment of antipasti such as cheese, cured meat and olives, which was a nice dish to start the meal. Other starters that followed had more mixed results. I was a fan of the calamari that was fried at just the right level that tasted quite delicious without sogginess (an attribute you see too often in ordinary calamari dishes), and the meatball was also good. On the other hand, I honestly don’t remember anything special about the Caesar salad (perhaps I was setting the bar too high comparing it the showstopper in Carbone), and baked clams were a bit too rich for my taste.
Then comes a choice of spaghetti (you can get one either with marinara sauce or without one in cacio e pepe style) and a chicken dish for two. My girlfriend and I both ordered the spaghetti dishes with marinara style and shared the chicken parmesan (duh, isn’t this dish the hallmark of Italian-American classics?). The spaghetti was pretty solid in its simplicity; the tomato based marinara sauce was certainly on point and the noodle also had the nice firm texture to it as well. The massive chicken parmesan was pure decadence that we were able to savor the richness of flavor; sadly, we were not able to finish the entire thing. At this point, we were more than stuffed, by then came the desserts. I felt cannoli was more or less forgettable, but the tiramisu was serviceable.
You need to book a table through the online reservation system on Tock in advance. Unlike the loud chaos that typically fills the Nomar Bar, the dinner event was a lot more civilized. There is full bar and house wine options, but a bottle of montepulciano that we ordered was somewhat underwhelming. I liked this pop-up more from the vibe standpoint. All the table clothes are in typical squares of red and white fitting for an Italian-American venue. Overall, the food was solid at the event but I guess I was expecting something more special given the pedigree of the team working behind it.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 10 West 28th St, New York, NY 10001
Telephone: (212) 796-1500