As restaurants begin to reopen, I found myself craving not just a dinner out, but a nice dinner out. A get-a-bit-overdressed, eat-some-really-good-food dinner out.
Which is why when Nora in Little Italy invited me to come sample the new menu, I jumped at the chance. Not only was the food fantastic, but the whole experience made me feel comfortable with venturing back into the upscale dining scene.
Nora is an intimate restaurant and the tables have been well-spaced to allow for proper social distancing. When you arrive, you receive a QR code that links to the menu to minimize a high-contact item. All the servers and staff are properly masked, as well.
Nora recently brought on a new executive chef, Chef Patrick Kenny. Chef Kenny is a Northeast Ohio boomerang (you know I always feel a kinship with them) who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked in Jacksonville and Naples, Florida before returning home.
Chef Kenny worked in a variety of locations in Northeast Ohio, including the Hunt Club and Lockkeepers, before becoming executive chef at Nora.
My favorite part about Chef Kenny’s story is that he’s been cooking since he was two. He began by spending time with his grandmother in the kitchen. But rather than just watching her, Chef Kenny actively participated in the baking.
When he was four, Chef Kenny surprised his parents with a full breakfast in bed (Jeffrey could learn something here.) His passion and skill at cooking just continued to grow. Now Chef Kenny brings that talent to a creative, seasonal modern Italian menu at Nora.
We tried a variety of appetizers: shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, fritto misto, arancini, and clams.
I think my favorite was the arancini with a red sauce that made me want to lick the plate (definitely not COVID-approved behavior.) But the clams in white wine garlic sauce were also divine.
I had the salad special with melon and prosciutto, which is a summer must-eat.
For our entrees, we shared the lobster ravioli and the radice birra galleggiante (gnocchi with short rib.)
Chef Kenny uses the entire lobster in the lobster ravioli dish, from the meat for the filling to the roe for the pasta to the shell as part of the stock for the sauce. The result is an incredibly flavorful dish!
The gnocchi just melts in your mouth and the short rib is tender and delicious. The concept behind the dish is a play on a root beer float, with spice in the short rib and vanilla-infused gnocchi for a hint of creamy sweetness.
And make sure you save room for dessert! The creamy, decadent buckeye mousse is not to be missed!
From the atmosphere to the food to the safety precautions, Nora made it possible to have an amazing, relaxing, fine-dining experience. The fact that their executive chef is a Northeast Ohio native with such a great backstory made it truly an authentically CLE evening.
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at Nora. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***