Don’t miss out on the splendid Nana’s Westerly
On a recent visit to Nana’s Westerly, co-owner James Wayman suggested we try the Warm Squash and Local Apple Nuoc Chom Salad, which, quite honestly, we wouldn’t have ordered in a million years without the recommendation.
Well, the dish was phenomenal. In my estimation, it was the best of all we tried that day, and one we will soon order again on a repeat visit. Nuoc cham is a Vietnamese dipping sauce made from fish, water, sugar and citrus, and it was a perfect complement to the fried butternut squash, sliced crisp apples and celery-like garleek, all tossed with toasted sesame, nori and ginger. For $13, it was a delightful bowl of flavorful deliciousness that my lunch pal and I scraped clean.
Also exceptionally good were the Risotto Balls, $8, for three hefty balls of rolled risotto with parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, and a Calabrian chili crunch. The seasoning added a zing with each bite, and the sauce was mild, making for a very good combination. We used the leaves of red buttercrunch lettuce on top to mop up the sauce and stray risotto.
Wayman and his partners opened Nana’s Westerly last March, and the all-day café has been attracting diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since. The eatery is a classy older sister to its Mystic location.
Nana’s is all about fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the Seacoast Mushroom Grilled Cheese sandwich, $14, is a perfect example. The Seacoast mushrooms are grown in Stonington, the finback is from Mystic Cheese Company, the grilled leeks from a local farm, and the sourdough bread made in-house at Nana’s daily. That buttery grilled bread is worth every stinking calorie.
Pizza is big at Nana’s so we had to try one. My lunch buddy settled on a pie with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and local sweet corn. A 13-inch tomato, olive oil and basil pizza costs $12, and for an additional $4, we added the cheese and corn. The pie wasn’t just pretty – it was mouthwatering good.
With pizza, I tend to eat the innards and forgo the crust. But at Nana’s, the dough is made daily with stone ground grains, and it was delicious, even the over-crisped bites. The sweet corn had been cut from the cob, and with the house-made tomato sauce, mozzarella and whole fresh basil leaves, it was heaven in the mouth. We tried, but we couldn’t finish it.
That’s because we got the Sloppy Joe, too. It was $15 and made with braised beef, peppers, onions, chilis, beans and a marinade called shio koji, delivered on a house-made brioche bun laden with sesame seeds. The beef was flavorful, the bun buttery and sweet, and the scattering of tender lettuce leaves providing texture and color for just the right finish.
Nana’s sourdough doughnuts are a popular choice, as well as its extensive menu of organic coffee and other beverages, with options such as cacao turmeric latte, house kombucha, Rhode Island coffee milk, and Squash Drank – the last a combination of espresso, milk, black squash puree, sweetened condensed milk, and warm spice.
They also have a small but interesting selection of wine, beer and spirits, with cocktails such as the Don’t Call Me Papa, made with fig-leaf infused rye, chai spice vermouth, black koji salt, and luxardo cherry, for $14.
The menu does change, but when we visited, Nana’s was offering, among other things, an organic carrot apple soup ($12), fluke crudo ($14), and a Shundahai Farm chopped salad ($14) that included greens, bacon, pasta, onions, finback, fried capers and a tomato vinaigrette – all different and tempting options.
You enter Nana’s Westerly from the parking lot behind the United Theatre and adjacent to Longo’s restaurant, and it’s a cheery welcome, with the intoxicating smells, clean bright interior, and gracious staff who greet you. There’s a mix of patrons – young and old, working folks, moms with babies, the coffee crowd, lunchtime ladies – who sit inside and out, and more who stop by to pick up orders to go.
Downtown Westerly has an abundance of good and interesting restaurant options, and Nana’s deserves a spot at the top of that list. Try it, and I think you will agree.
82 High St., Westerly
Find their website at nanasri.com
Atmosphere: The interior is rustic contemporary, with exposed red brick, teak furniture, marble-topped tables and bar, and a big overhead skylight allowing sunlight in. It’s an open kitchen, so you can see the chefs at work.
Hours: Open seven days a week: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Check the website to see when breakfast ends and lunch and dinner begins. Sunday brunch is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Service: Very good
Credit cards: Yes
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Outdoor seating: Yes