I still remember my first journey to Nonnabiti (“Nonni’s Bite”). ‘Twas a voyage that turned my life around and upside-down forever.
I was sixteen. I sat in the back of a tan Mercury Topaz with my good friend Orri. In the front: two guys I didn’t know quite as well. They were Orri’s friends. We had no class that session and the boys were feeling hungry so we tore up the streets. “We’re going to Nonnabiti,” the driver said without even glancing at the rear-view mirror. I inconspicuously shrugged my shoulders. These guys had grown up in 101; I had grown up in 108. What did I know?
Before long, I was holding a sub in my hand—a hero that lived up to his name. The bread was lightly toasted yet soft, not primarily made out of air but grain, it was bursting with bacon and melted cheese and fried ham and lettuce and green peppers and onions, slathered with sauce and graciously topped with aromat. So much aromat!
Not only was this one of the tastiest fast foods to have graced my oral cavity, it was also served by what looked like DJ Margeir’s long lost, slightly older, twin. Cross my heart and swear… to this day, I have never come upon a handsomer devil professionally flipping burgers. And who was He but Nonni himself, the charmed prince of hoagies!
Many a day onwards would we trek downtown—in the tan Topaz, in a 4×4 Fiat Panda, in a sky blue Volvo station wagon, whatever we could muster. I was young and adventurous and eager to try other offerings from the menu. I tried the Chili Sub, the Pepperoni Sub; I even tried Nonni’s hamburgers. They were all good, but nothing could match the immaculate perfection of the Bacon Sub. It didn’t exactly hurt that at this time, in 2001, Nonnabiti was one of the few places in town where you could buy a can of Dr. Pepper. Just what the doctor ordered.
Nonni—who founded the place in 1993—still mans the pan from time to time. His demeanour towards extremely drunk people, admittedly a large portion of his clientele (it’s open until 5:30 AM on the weekends), is admirable if not outright worthy of Dorrit knighting him. The soothing sounds of his voice, his shrewd yet kind smile.
And why shouldn’t he adorn his foxy smile? He has beheld divine chambers. He has kneeled and accepted a gift from the gods: the secret recipe of the Nonni sauce. Many have tried to copy it; they have spent tireless months mixing ingredients at home, taking notes, probing the deep web—but they have all failed miserably. And they will continue to do so as long as there is order in this world.