The Ritz Carlton Presents Casa Nonna

My friend, Italian-born hotelier Luigi Fidele had his Nonna living with him, right here in Aruba, imported from Italy, a feared and revered little old lady, the queen of the kitchen, the Matriarch. Everything in that household revolved around her. I never got it. I grew up without grandparents.

But, that’s how I learned about the incredibly important role a Nonna plays in the universe of her drama-queen Italian disciples, and her influence grows stronger as she ages – instead of having a diminished presence, her impact surges with time. I get it now, after visiting Italy a number of times: In the chaos and insanity of Italian society, there’s nothing more central than a little island of tasteful serenity and wisdom, a delicious refuge, a hedonistic respite. Hence Casa Nonna.

The Ritz Carlton team, General Manager Steve Redkoles is outnumbered by the powerful A-personality females in his management orchestra Louella Brezovar, Mayra Macaraig, Alejandra Baisotti and Yahira Santoni.  They showed off their Casa Nonna menu and showed off their chef, last night.

Chef de Cuisine Rollyn R. Angela Rosas is a source of pride to the resort. Having graduated Aruba’s own culinary program at EPI he went on to acquire a culinary arts degree in Florida, at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He then continued to work his way through a hip South Beach restaurant and hotel, and upon his return to Aruba was snatched up by the Ritz Carlton. That was three years ago, and he’s been preparing for his role as the restaurant chef by training at Casa Nonna NY, a fancy Italian in Midtown Manhattan, in the heart of the NY Theater district, and now also within the Ritz Carlton Aruba. A biographical footnote also explains that Rollyn is the son of Dr. Angela, a local house doctor and a famous foodie. Apparently, there is some truth in the apple and tree theory.

Casa Nonna’s open, exhibition kitchen was abuzz last night, with an 8-member culinary brigade and the resort’s executive chef Rafael Lopez Aliaga as expediter. Ray Malmberg, a veteran member of the Ritz Carlton Food & Beverage team was named restaurant manager, he has a cool, calm and collected presence!

We enjoyed a Piato di Carne E Formaggio, with delicious cured meats and cheeses – loved the Gorgonzola Dolce and the tasty relish; Among Bruschetta, the Tuscan Chicken Liver Pate with Golden Raisins and the Sicilian Eggplant Caponata were a TEN.

My favorite among pastas, a world wonder, the Siamese Agnolotti, a double pasta pouch, one stuffed with a veal ragu the other with cheese and spinach. How do they make that?!

Our introductory journey through the menu also included the Gnocchi, and the Pansotti di Zucca, a butter scotch pumpkin filled ravioli with roasted pumpkin seeds, swimming in lovely butter sauce.

Dessert? Off the chart!

I am sure I forgot a few others. The worlds crispiest Mozzarella balls? The yummiest meat balls? The incredible wine selection made it difficult to document every bite; all I can say is the Casa Nonna is worth an urgent visit, it’s a delicious refuge, a hedonistic respite.

The décor? The restaurant was completely refreshed, mid high season. It took the orchestra two days to introduce the totally new mood, with artistic wall paper and eclectic artwork, vintage porcelain plates, and genuine 50s pieces of furniture to evoke Nonna’s all-over-the-place interior design choices. The drapes are from Curtain Call, the comfy banquettes were manufactured here by a local carpenter.

Best of all, those of us who adore the Solanio Breakfast Buffet, are happy to hear it is intact. In the morning the restaurant displays its well-liked Solanio logo, and it’s business as usual from 6:30am to 12noon. Casa Nonna serves dinner from 6pm to 10pm.


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March 22, 2018
Rona Coster