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At the Plate

Nonna’s Sunday Supper at Thyme; Cortona corners Cooper-Young.


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If you still haven't visited Thyme Bistro, which opened last year, owner Rick Saviori is giving you yet another reason to check out his elegant continental cuisine. Thyme is now featuring Nonna's Sunday Supper — an all-Italian and Italian-influenced menu.

Nonna is "grandmother" in Italian, and given Saviori's heritage, it was only a matter of time before he paid tribute to his roots. "A lot of people for some reason think Thyme is Italian just because I am," Saviori says. "I like doing Italian food. I just didn't want to do a totally Italian restaurant. So doing it once a week, especially on Sunday nights when most places are closed, I thought would be a really good thing to draw people in."

The offerings are a mix of traditional Italian recipes and non-traditional dishes with Italian flavors. The menu changes every Sunday, but the rudiments are the same: three or four fresh pasta dishes, seafood and meat entrées, the restaurant's signature pizzas and salads, as well as some off-menu salads like the cornbread panzanella salad served to patrons a few Sundays ago. Other Nonna's Sunday Suppers have dished up braised short-rib ragout with local shiitake mushrooms tossed with homemade fettuccini pasta; traditional lasagna with marinara sauce, local pork and beef, and béchamel; and roasted monkfish atop eggplant caponata and garnished with basil pesto. Thyme also uses locally sourced meat (pork from Newman Farm and ground beef from Donnell Farm).

You can get small plates of the bistro's pasta specials for $6 to $9, entrées for $12 to $18, and fish dishes and meat dishes for $20 to $22. "I'm trying to keep everything priced like our regular menu — affordable," Saviori says.

Nonna's Sunday Supper is served from 5 to 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the crowd.

Thyme Bistro, 5689 Quince (552-4907),

Memphians have a long-standing curiosity about the northeast corner of Cooper and Young. Formerly the home of Dish (and Melange and Cooper Street and Maxwell's), this restaurant space has seen a number of turnovers for such a prime location. Enter Cortona Contemporary Italian. Making significant structural and design changes, chef David Cleveland and manager Leslie Billman (both formerly of Grisanti's) are hoping Cortona will stand the test of time in a historically capricious locale.

Not only does Cortona boast a much more open feel (Cleveland literally moved walls and columns to open the dining area, separate the bathrooms, and offer a full view of the corner outside), but it will maintain typical restaurant hours (not past midnight) to keep the spot from becoming part of the club scene. New carpet and wood have replaced the concrete floors, making the space quieter and more inviting, and a new wall separates kitchen noise from the main dining room. They've also straightened and extended the front-room bar to provide more space for seating, and the patio will still be available for dining al fresco.

The name Cortona comes from the Italian city where Cleveland spent two years cooking, but the menu is a blend of cuisines from all over the Italian peninsula. Southern-style pizzas are listed alongside Northern pasta dishes (made with pasta crafted in-house).Fried calamari, a mushroom torta, and beef with pomodoro fresco, cream of artichoke soup, and salads with homemade dressings are all available to start. From there, you have a number of vegetarian options to choose from, including a roasted eggplant ravioli with spicy Arrabbiata sauce, crumbled goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds, and vegetable lasagna with fresh spinach, wild mushrooms, béchamel sauce, and five cheeses. Meat-based pastas and entrées include roasted chicken and asparagus ravioli with walnut cream, pesto, pine nuts, and shaved Reggiano cheese and grilled salmon with horseradish potato doughnuts, spinach, and rosemary-garlic citrus sauce. Pastas, pizzas, and entrées range from $9.50 to $17.50.

Cleveland and Billman hope to have Cortona open on February 1st. They will have full bar service with imported beer by the bottle, small selection of local brews on tap, and wines ranging from $20 to $40.

Cortona will be open for dinner every day from 5 to 10 p.m. and until around 11 p.m. on the weekends.

Cortona Contemporary Italian, 948 S. Cooper (729-0101)

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