Nonna’s new chef intends to make you love his food.

Growing up in Southern Oregon on a mixed farm Chef Jacob worked on the land into his teens while his mother brought additional income in by cooking for others. He liked the outdoors and the hard work of farming, becoming efficient in running all the various pieces of machinery, but found himself drawn more to watching and helping his mother in the kitchen. He saw how food brought everyone together in a positive way and loved the flavors created. His mother presented rustic comfort foods in gleaming black pans and he saw how much contentment it brought. Nothing was better than that feeling of family at the table, enjoying the food they had grown and the ensuing conversations. Not long after his mother saw Jacobs’ cooking fascination emerge she recruited him away from the harvest life for good and taught him how to make people smile with every bite. It was this home grown fare that spurred interest in cooking with real food and largely formed the construct of how he cooks today. Eventually he was lured to Portland and everything he had heard about the food scene. Six years later after gleaning methodology and stylized creations in the local kitchens at Fratelli’s, Clyde Common, Expatriate, OX, and most recently Davenport, the Nonna opportunity captured his attention. He gives much credit to Kevin Gibbs of Davenport with spending the most time in the kitchen with his chef line, inspiring and encouraging them to be better. Drawn to rustic Italian foods more than other styles Jacob intends to create a menu that people will enjoy and love. At Nonna Chef Jacob makes practically everything in house. He exudes passion for simple fish, crudo and bresaola and plans on creating a portion of the menu just for such things. He likes to study the food and prefers the Japanese style, but; with Italian flavors. Letting high quality ingredients speak unencumbered save for exactly the right olive oil or citrus. He also intends for Nonna to push the envelope with gnocchi as a landing place for diners and a consistency in the food that he feels has been lacking at other places. “At the end of the day the place is only as good as the people you have making it. I’m in the kitchen because I like it there.”

After dining at Nonna we can attest to the fact we wanted to come back and eat it all…and we will! Chef Jacob does exude a different stance on basic Italian cooking and we loved each and every bite. It’s the kind of distinctive flavors and combinations you find from signature chefs. From his Winter Cesare Salad resplendent with tiny salty sardines and creamy, runny egg atop a field of taunt romaine dressed further with Italian Cheese, his charred sliced Brussels sprouts tinted with thin circles of hot peppers and balsamic reduction to his Crispy Potato Salad including salmon roe atop boiled egg that set him apart and make you want to try more. His main of delicately seared scallop with the most delicious and colorful field turnips setting on a squishy smeared base of velvet squash, bestowed with handmade sauerkraut and crispy mouthwatering boar belly just leaves you wondering what was on his mind, but it works like a pair of Belgian horses at the trace. Nonna will win many fans with this menu, so go, enjoy, and embrace a newly appointed chef which we hope will get lots of attention in Portland’s ever growing Mecca of food destinations.


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