Back in late March of this year, Bill and I ventured to Nagold, where we enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal at Osteria Da Gino's. When I blogged about our experience there, I called it "unforgettable". Indeed, neither of us had forgotten the lovely dinner we had in Nagold about two months ago. So when Bill asked if I wanted to go there again tonight, I was quick to say yes...
But there was one problem. Our dogs, Zane and Arran, usually get along with each other very well. Lately, though, they have been having some issues with dominance. Arran tends to be a bit food aggressive and last weekend, when we visited Calw, we came home to find that they'd had a fight. I was a little worried we'd have a repeat performance tonight. We usually give our dogs stuffed Kongs to keep them busy, but we had noticed Zane was shy about taking his. Before we left the house tonight, I told Bill to take them out for a last minute pee. He rolled his eyes, but took them out. That's when we discovered that Arran the piglet had already taken both Kongs. That's what they had been fighting over. Though we'd been successfully using them for months, they'd recently started squabbling over them in our absence, which led to finding Zane with a few tooth marks last week.
After a couple of tense moments that involved my convincing Arran to let me have the Kong and Bill's concern that I was about to be in a dog fight, Arran finally gave up the Kong and we were on our way to Nagold. I would like to say that I didn't worry about them all through dinner, but I did. Nevertheless, we had a great time anyway and when we got home three and a half hours later, both dogs were healthy and sound.
Now, on with the review...
We arrived at Da Gino's a few minutes past our reservation. This was because Bill parked in a different garage and we had to spend a couple of minutes orienting ourselves to Nagold again. It's a small, cute town, but we don't go there often enough. Once we found the restaurant, we were confronted by several folks sitting outside. When the weather is good, that's where the party is at Osteria Da Gino. I mentioned during our first visit that their indoor dining room is small and you may wind up sharing a table if you eat inside. Outside, there is a lot more seating. We were able to claim a two top to ourselves.
Bill looking dashing as we enjoy a glass of prosecco...
The weather tonight was warm, but not hot enough to make eating outside unpleasant. And, to be honest, if it had been really hot, I doubt eating inside would have made things better. We had plenty of wine and sparkling water, along with Gino and his fabulously warm staff... whom I am guessing are family, but I don't know for certain.
We had some bread... I didn't eat too much of this because I knew we were in for a long night...
It took Gino a couple of minutes to remember us, but the tiny, friendly, and adorable Italian lady who was there the first time we visited remembered right away. And Gino was, of course, the same fantastic host he was last time we visited.
He brought out "vorspeisen"... it consisted of grilled vegetables and what looked like a terrine of some sort... I tasted Parmesan cheese and tomatoes... and I didn't try to figure out the rest.
Fresh mozzarella with olives, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and a little basil... If you are a cheese fan, this is a real treat.
And the same fennel, orange, and sundried tomatoes we had last time... All was very good and though I don't like cold cheese much, I even tried the mozzarella, which was excellent.
Bill grins at me as I catch a photo of the adorable pug in the background... I call this his "Norman Fell" smile... If you ever saw him on Three's Company, you might know what I mean.
It took some time to get from course one to course two. Gino was very busy with his clientele and no one was rushed. We didn't mind. I enjoyed chatting with Bill and drinking wine and tried not to fret about Zane and Arran.
Course number two... homemade raviolis with a cream sauce, asparagus, and parmesan cheese. The raviolis were stuffed with cheese, rosemary, pine nuts, and some kind of citrusy Arabian spice with a little zing. Bear in mind that Gino doesn't speak English, so we had mixed conversations in German, Italian and a smattering of English... This course was delightful.
Another pause as we waited for the main course. I had meat-- which was a small steak. Bill had fish, which came with a butterflied shrimp. I think the fish was called San Marino... but I will have to double check.
Main courses... I had trouble finishing mine. I was pretty full. It was good, though the steak was a hair more done than I like it. I liked Bill's fish better.
It was finally dark by the time we were ready for dessert. We split the panoply below... ice cream (more like a frozen custard, really), panna cotta, tiramisu, and minted strawberries. We also had espresso...
And, like last time, Gino joined us for a house shot of grappa. made from the same grapes Bill's white wine was-- from the Piedmont area of Italy, which Bill and I have visited.
Dinner took about 3.5 hours... and it cost 139 euros for two of us. But that was for a lot of food and wine between two people. Many people came and only had one or two courses. Once again, we were never presented menus. Gino just asked us what we liked and brought out very fresh and inviting cuisine. I would not be surprised if he grew some of the stuff we were eating. It was very good.
Gino was also engaging everyone. Watching him work the crowd was as entertaining as the food was. He's very gregarious, has a great sense of humor, and is a lot of fun, even if we speak different languages.
There were two well behaved dogs in attendance tonight. I couldn't help but wish Zane and Arran were more polite in public settings. Perhaps tomorrow, we will take them to a biergarten and see if they can go out in public.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nagold is an adorable German town and Osteria Da Gino is a great place for authentic Italian food. It's not a place to go if you're in a hurry or very particular about your food. It's not a place to go if you need to speak English, though I don't speak much German and plenty was being communicated between Gino, Bill, and me. In fact, I think Gino might have invited us to his birthday party in October. I'm sure we'll be back before then to confirm. Gino also loves dogs. We watched him serve San Pellegrino and a little prosciutto to his canine guests.
Seriously... Nagold is way cute and you will get a great Italian meal at Gino's restaurant. Go there when you are prepared to spend some time, relax, and let Gino take the reins. It's definitely a different experience and it's clear that his restaurant is much loved in Nagold. Better yet, parking was free! The garage where we parked usually charges, but only during weekday business hours. That made Nagold an even more appealing destination tonight.