photo credit: Emily Schindler

Nonna Dora's image

Nonna Dora’s Pasta Bar


Kips Bay

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightEating At The BarCasual Weeknight DinnerDining Solo
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At Nonna Dora’s, there are no dubious claims about bolognese being sourced from a grandma who only exists in a black-and-white stock photo on the wall. 

Addolorata "Dora" Marzovilla is a real-life nonna who comes into her namesake restaurant to make fresh pasta every morning, and she leaves before the restaurant opens for the night. This admittedly adorable story attracts many of the patrons—but the added lore is unnecessary. This Kips Bay spot serves some of the best handmade pasta in Manhattan. It’s the only signature Dora needs to leave behind.

Nonna Dora's image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Nonna Dora's is strictly a pasta bar (meaning there's no secondi menu with larger proteins), and, unless you completely turn off your peripheral vision, it’s impossible to choose what to order. Everything looks amazing, and everyone is always claiming that their particular bowl of pillowy carbohydrates is to die for. We’ve never seen more sharing at a non-family-style restaurant.

Though there’s a long list of perfectly fine small plates like fave e cicoria and melanzana, you'll see many people order an extra pasta to share instead. This is the move, and we suggest getting the slab of Dora’s lasagna to split. The tissue paper layers of pasta are delicate enough for you to save room for the squid ink special or silky beet-filled casoncelli. Chewy, al dente pasta is usually the standard for a satisfying bowl of carbs, but here you get handmade pasta that feels like velvet. It's pure luxury.

Nonna Dora's image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Surprisingly, there aren’t many Italian restaurants in New York City that focus solely on handmade pasta, without any other mains. There are plenty of fake nonnas, though. Nonna Dora is the only one who really deserves the credit, but the pasta, not the backstory, is why you come back.

Food Rundown

Vegetable Lasagna

Both of the lasagnas on the menu have tissue paper-thin layers of pasta that melt in your mouth. Whether you’re vegetarian or not, the green lasagna with asparagus and pesto is a nice, light, and earthy option.

Dora's Lasagna

This classic meat-sauce-and-bechamel lasagna has meat so tender that you can barely see the small but flavorful flecks of it. We'd order this before the vegetable one, but it's a close call.

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You can barely taste the shrimp in the stuffing of these mezzelune, but it’s in there doing its job, bringing out woodsy flavors in the mushrooms with its seafood saltiness. Pair this dish with one of the heavier pastas.

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The gnocchi has a pesto sauce that’s somehow extra-creamy without being as heavy as what you’d find at a pizza shop, and there’s any airy lightness to the dumplings that’s crucial to the dish. These are warm and comforting without putting you into a carb-induced slumber.

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Pappardelle Del Ristoro

This pappardelle with wild boar ragù is fine, but it's a little boring compared to the other options. We'd go for something else.

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If you need a heavier protein with your pasta, order the hearty, pleasantly herbaceous meatballs for the table.

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Calamari Fritti

Order this, and you'll get extra-crispy fried squid overflowing out of a little bag in a rather charming way. What's not to like? Just don't fill up, or you're going to miss out on the really good stuff.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Nonna's ricotta cheesecake is light but decadant, and it's a must-order for dessert.

Nonna Dora's image


Try at least one of the eight negroni variations. They get a full page on the menu for a reason. All of them are pretty good (as is anything coming from the highly skilled and accommodating bartender), but unless you’re a negroni enthusiast, you don’t need to get into the ones in the above-$20 range. Our favorites are the Negroni Uno (pictured here), with a deep and bitter smokiness from a hint of cocoa, and the lighter, floral Negroni Due.

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