There’s a tiny new bar opening this week in the Inner Sunset and it’s giving San Francisco cocktail party-meets-Italian grandmother’s living room vibes. Bar Nonnina comes to the neighborhood courtesy of the same folks behind Fiorella Restaurant Group, which makes sense considering the 14-seat bar (well, not exactly “seat” but more on that later) is hidden up on the Fiorella Sunset location’s rooftop patio. It’s not a rooftop bar though, since the dark and moody lounge is technically tucked away behind a sliding pocket door. There’s a separate drink and food menu available inside, just for Bar Nonnina guests, and Fiorella co-founder Boris Nemchenok says it’s designed to be an intimate, up-close-and-personal experience. “Really, the bartender is hosting the guests,” he explains.
The full cocktail menu includes six drinks, one beer, and three wines — plus the option to go for a flight of three cocktails if you want to get a little taste of the bar’s range. The flight features some of Nemchenok’s favorites from the including Galileo’s Gaze, a fruity riff on a white negroni made with strawberry-infused gin, and the Colpesce, Bar Nonnina’s martini-like offering that takes a coastal spin with kombu-infused vodka and smoked olive brine. Rounding out the flight, the Battle of Ivera brings more smoke to the table; this cocktail blends mezcal with notes of cara cara oranges, chamomile, lavender, and honey.
If you want in on the bar’s eye-catching and sure-to-be-popular Slushie di Modena, however, you’ll have to order that separately. It’s basically a lambrusco slushy that’s built on a base of hand-shaved ice the bartender will produce from a machine the team imported from Japan. In addition to the sparkling red wine, the drink includes orange and lemon peel-lifted Bordiga gin, Chiot Montamaro bitters from the Piedmontese Alps, and Sicilian blood orange liqueur.
Bar Nonnina and Fiorella Sunset chef Scott Schneider brings a small menu to the hidden cocktail lounge, though you could certainly make a meal out of it. There are smaller snack items like a trio of nuts, olives, and crackers and a rosemary focaccia, which you can supplement with cheese and prosciutto if you so please. But if you’re looking for something more hearty, the carne dei cruda features rib eye, egg yolk, and briny cornichons and capers makes a meaty option. And it wouldn’t be a proper Italian grandma’s house if there wasn’t pasta, so Schneider’s offering ricotta tortellini scattered with vibrant green peas, fava beans, and lemon.
To say the space, which was designed by Studio by LARK, is petite might be downplaying its intimate nature. Bar Nonnina maxes out at 14 guests, and it’s standing room only. So you can belly up to either the red-veined green marble bar or perch at one of the communal, bar-height wood tables. From any vantage point, you’ll be close enough to take in the dim glow of the fireplace and appreciate a mural depicting an Italian countryside landscape. Accents like coffered ceilings, decorative wainscoting, gray velvet drapery, fluted glass doors, and a vintage Italian chandelier add to the luxurious air. Reservations, which will be limited to 90 minutes, will be available on Tock ($15/person deposit required), though you can also roll the dice on a walk-in.
Bar Nonnina, located inside Fiorella Sunet (1240 9th Avenue), debuts Wednesday, May 18 and will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5-10 p.m.