“If it had been an Italian who codified the world of cuisine, it would be thought of as Italian.”
Everyone who likes Italian food should know Nundini Imported Food Store on Shepherd near the Heights. Nundini is an Italian food store, a deli, and a gelateria. I usually go to shop for Italian foods, eat some lunch, and eat a little sorbetto.
As a food store, Nundini has some very interesting Mediterranean foodstuffs: Italian deli meats, Italian cookies, imported pasta, Turkish “aphrodisiac” cookies, Italian rice and grains, bulk spices, dozens of imported olive oils, inexpensive Italian wines, and canned tuna and anchovies. Some of these items are quite exotic. Their squid ink pasta is excellent cooked with olive oil and parmesan cheese. Their faro grain is a very good, nutty alternative to rice. But their bottarga (fermented tuna eggs) are a little too weird for my palate.
As a deli, Nundini has good prices and great sandwiches. Nundini displays a chalk board comparing its prices on Italian meats like prosciutto to Whole Foods and Central Market. According to the board, Nundini is significantly cheaper. Their lunch sandwich specials, which come with chips and tea, are outstanding for $5.95: turkey cesar on Thursday, sopresatta on Wednesday, meatball sandwich on Tuesday. The meatball sandwich is particularly good. Compared to most meatball sandwiches, it is an exercise in restraint and balance. The meatballs are small, moderately spiced, and ground perfectly – not too coarse and not so fine that they lose their texture. Unlike most meatball sandwiches, it is not so covered in sauce that the bread loses its texture. The modest amount of mozzarella adds some dimension to the sandwich, but is not at all overwhelming. This is a perfectly constructed, remarkably light sandwich that wisely highlights its star – the meatball.
As a gelateria, Nundini may be the best in Houston. Recently, I had the cassis gelato. The flavor was intensely sweet and sour and fruity. Cassis is one of my favorite fruit flavors, but I rarely see it in any form. As an Italian ice, it is a fantastic flavor.
The best Italian food focuses on ingredients. Nundini is a great place to get those ingredients.