I have long been a fan of Nosh, located on the floor of the same building that houses Silo’s on Austin Highway. And when I read a couple of weeks back that there would be a new chef, Luca Della Casa, formerly with Il Sogno) and a new menu, I was sad that I would no longer be able to stop by for a plate of Korean beef tacos, or the jalapeno poppers, or the fresh donut holes, or….well, you get the idea. I loved the old menu! But there is always room for something new, and so last night I tried the new Nosh menu, accompanied by a friend who also loved the old menu.
The new menu rolled out Tuesday of last week, although no version of it appeared online (or was obtainable by fax or email) until this week; and by the time we dined last night, that version had been changed. Obviously we were visiting a work in progress. This became even more evident as we asked the waitstaff questions about ingredients, etc. that they either had to look up in their notes or go back and ask. Still, the staff was making a valiant effort and our waiter Arturo was unabashedly enthusiastic about — well, everything!!
The menu is divided into five sections: snacks, small plates, salads, pizzas, and treats. In the interest of gastronomic research, we tried at least one item from each part of the menu.
I love arancini, and so of course the Nosh version was the first item ordered.
These small fried balls were packed with risotto, parmesan, and sweet peas and came with a very good dipping sauce that contained more peas and pancetta. The sauce was excellent, and the arancini were good. “Arancini” means “little oranges,” and these looked and were sized more like donut holes. They could be larger and better shaped, like the fabulous ones Chef Rob used to create at RoMo’s. A larger size would also accommodate the peas a bit better. The sauce was perfect. Overall, for $8 I would order it again, but would like to see larger, if fewer, pieces.
We also sampled the mixed charcuterie block.
A splash of honey with comb, a slice of toasted bread, and spicy red peppers accompanied the slices of pancetta and sopressa. The cheeses were pecorino, aged goat and cow’s milk. The honey was an especially nice touch. For $18 this seemed a bit pricey, but the assortment was well thought out and nicely presented.
The arancini and charcuterie are part of the snacks menu. From the salad section, we tried the shrimp salad.
This salad was exquisite. Large, firm shrimp were served with tomato, basil, thin slices of cucumber, and small bits of avocado. The lemon vinaigrette was perfect for the dish. At $10, this salad was a steal for the quality and flavored it delivered. Plus, the presentation was perfect.
From the small plates section, we tried the buffalo mozzarella skewers.
For one thing, the menu said “skewers” and we received one. The waiter assured us that only one came with the order (so that would be “skewer” without the “s,” folks). It arrived sort of over on the side of the plate and honestly, the plate looked more empty than dressed. Perhaps a different plating could be used? The basil sauce that accompanied it was very good. The combination of mozzarella, grilled eggplant, roasted tomato, and fried sweet potato — well, it just didn’t work for either of us. The individual flavors were good and the sauce was terrific. But at $10, this seemed a pricey ordering error.
Fortunately, “the bomb” pizza that arrived shortly had a enough flavor and quality to make us forget the skewer.
This little pizza packed a LOT of flavor. The advertised spicy tomato sauce spicy and tomatoey and perfect. The red onion, soppressata and mozzarella were good, and the capers provided a pleasant bite. But the sauce was the star. The crust was thin and crisp — the pizzas are made on a grill, since there is no pizza over there. And it was perfect, and a good deal at $10.
(As a side note, I ordered the margherita pizza to go for a friend. At $8, it was a great deal and it traveled well. )
So that left us the treats section, and we tried both of the offerings. First came the tiramisu, which the waiter told us was based on the chef’s grandmother’s recipe.
If this is the chef’s grandmother’s recipe, then I would be willing to buy her a house next to mine in return for her making me this every day. The mascarpone was light and tasty and the whole dish rich and wonderful. This tiramisu is by far the best on offer in San Antonio. At $5, this dessert is sooooo worthwhile.
And to our surprise, we liked the fried sweet gnocchi just as much — well, almost as much, as the tiramisu.
Served with dollops of nutella and dulce de leche, these unusual sweet treats may look a bit funky, but they taste divine –light and airy. I can see that every time I visit Nosh, I will have to order both desserts.
I know that the new Nosh menu is a work in progress, but most of the progress is going in the right direction. The chef seems to have a perfect hand with the sauces, which contributed a great deal to the offerings. And new features keep being added; the menu shows a list of daily features about to be offered: on Tuesday, house-made gnocchi; Wednesday, braised short rib and parmesan risotto; Thursday meatloaf and vegetable (I wonder if this is also his grandmother’s recipe; I may have to get myself adopted); Friday wild boar and polenta; and Saturday seafood tagliatelle.
Finding a decent polenta in San Antonio is hard, and a good risotto almost impossible, so I will definitely be at Nosh soon on a Wednesday and a Friday. And I do regret that I have not tried any of the pasta dishes — but I was too busy trying everything else.