Nonna Rosa's brings red sauce to Robbinsdale

Travail too busy? Try Nonna Rosa's next door.
Travail too busy? Try Nonna Rosa's next door.

If you drove all the way up to Robbinsdale and found the lines too long for a table at the new gastropub, Travail, your next best bet is to head down the block to the cozy Nonna Rosa's.

It's not the kind of restaurant that's necessarily worth the drive, as it doesn't so much distinguish itself from other metro area Italian joints, but the new-this-summer restaurant is good enough to be a boon for those in the the neighborhood.

Nonna Rosa's owners are a husband and wife team of Italian and Italian-American descent who cook up classic pasta, meat, and fish dishes from their homeland in a cozy, slightly kitschy space (think faux finish paint decorative murals).

At lunch, I tried the mix-and-match pasta (starts at $6.99 and you can tack on a salad or dessert for an extra $2) of penne, Italian sausage, and veggies in the "Rosa" sauce (an alfredo/marinara combination), which was tasty and a good value and the vitello saltimbocca, or prosciutto-and-cheese-topped veal medallions, which was a rich, indulgent classic.

Nonna Rosa's does have two advantages over the spotlight-hogging Travail: a full liquor license and pretty patio seating.

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