|Exterior photo from Patch.com|
Clearly, Mina Cucina was an ideal candidate to put through the paces of The Nana Test.
Atmosphere: Mina Cucina is an unpretentious BYOB offering a relaxed atmosphere. You're not going to get world-class service, but the friendly staff knows the menu inside out and can tell you what is best to order. It's definitely the kind of place where you can sit back and enjoy a meal with friends or family without being overly worried about how loud you might be. The plain ambiance could be improved, though, as it didn't have much of a vibe. 3/5 points
Simplicity: You can find a healthy variety of meat, seafood and pasta dishes here. The menu and execution reminded me of my Nana's cooking. From the chicken toscana to the clam special, you could spot the touch of Mina Bompartito’s everyday Italian cooking. She's not trying to be creative and strives to deliver a classic Italian meal. It's missing the top-notch execution of say a Vetri or even Ulivo, but we all generally enjoyed our dishes. 4/5
Kristy's pappardelle bolognese sauce could have used more seasoning because it was a bit bland. My father loved the special of cockles in a spaghetti aioli-type sauce and licked the bowl clean. Maybe stick to the seafood-based sauces since the mussels were also quite good. 3/5
Antipasti: The antipasti is from A Taste of Italy, which sources many of its meats and cheeses from the best NYC shops. Our group's general opinion was that the antipasti was average at best. There was only one variety of cheese, which Kristy did not like and too few pieces of salami and prosciutto for all four of us to have one. The mushrooms and roasted red peppers were outstanding though. We also tried the PEI mussels appetizer and that was delicious. 2/5
Serving size and bread: Tough to beat the serving sizes. We were all either stuffed or had food to take home. (Hint: It wasn't me or my dad....). My chicken toscana, which was excellent, had two pieces of chicken and the pasta dishes were plentiful. Bread was available in abundance, but the quality was inconsistent. The first batch was toasted a bit too much, which made it hard to soak up the mussel sauce. The second batch was not toasted enough. 3/5
Mina Cucina scored 16 out of a possible 25 points in The Nana Test, including 3 bonus points for offering sambuca. Overall, we enjoyed our dinner at Mina Cucina and would recommend it if you are looking for a simple, straightforward Italian BYOB with some friends or family.