I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America.

Greetings from Galena, Missouri
N 36° 47.079’ W 093° 30.350’ Elev. 885 ft.
and West Asheville, North Carolina
N 35° 34.936’ W 082° 36.237’ Elev. 2208 ft.

‘Round this time last year Jason put together a list of the best things he ate during the previous year. Although the fabled SS Me So Hungry is currently in self-imposed “dry dock” I thought I’d go ahead and post my choice for the best meal(s) I had last year.

I’ve written about this restaurant twice before and, initially, was kind of hesitant to do so again. But when the food is that good, so head-and-shoulders above the rest, well … what’s a skipper to do?

So without further ado, the envelope, please. My choice for the best meal(s) I had in 2012 is [rrrrrrrip] Nona Mia Italian Kitchen.

The last time I was there (in November) I actually ordered a steak. I never order steak in restaurants. They’re usually too pricey and it’s something most everyone can cook as well or better at home. But I made an exception, mostly because the description on the Specials Menu sounded too good to pass up; a NY strip with a mushroom-chianti wine sauce.

I started with a Rustica salad ($9), comprised of “Mixed field greens, pear, walnuts, Gorgonzola, lemon and EVO (extra virgin olive oil)”; shouldn’t that be EVOO? As expected, it was so simple yet so great. What a great combination. My dining companion ordered a Verde salad ($8, small $4.25) of “Organic greens, red wine vinaigrette, and Parmigiano Reggiano.” It too looked pretty damn good. And everything fresh, fresh, fresh.

The Bistecca alla Griglia (Certified Angus Grilled Strip Loin Steak, with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus & a Mushroom Chianti Wine Sauce, $18) didn’t disappoint me either. The NY Strip steak was grilled perfectly medium/medium-rare as requested and was pretty darn tender, draped with an awesome sauce. The sauce was so good that I wished there had been more of it. I’m sure I could’ve asked Chef Peter Affatato for more but the restaurant was busy and, more so, I was too busy stuffing my face.

The wonderfully garlicky Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus made for a great compliment. And just for good measure it came with a piece of Nona’s great homemade bread. But this wasn’t the best meal I’ve had at Nona Mia’s.

Easily the best meal I’ve ever had at Nona Mia’s — and this is saying a lot considering the level of the food — was a seafood stew, Pesce Stufato ($17). It was a stew of clams, shrimp, calamari, grouper, fennel, potato and calamata olives. It came bathed in an exquisite saffron broth that lived up to its billing as “Heaven in a bowl.”

In the past I’ve bitched both here and in person about the fact that Nona Mia’s didn’t have Ravioli’s on the menu. Well, I guess my kvetching has paid off: Nona’s now has raviolis on its new menu not once but twice!

This would be swell except for two things: They now serve what would likely be my new favorite — Formaggio Ravioli Spinaci (House-made cheese ravioli, salsa pomodoro, creamed spinach & basil-walnut pesto, $18) — and, much worse, I am exactly 801.7 miles away. Like I said: Swell.

And so we (want to) roll.

Nona Mia Italian Kitchen, 1050 Haywood Road West, Asheville, North Carolina

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

About The Author

Tio Wally

Tio Wally is pilot emeritus of the 75-foot, 40-ton land yacht SS Me So Hungry. Now a committed landlubber, he reports on food wherever he is whenever his fancy strikes.

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