GREENSBORO — Gnam Gnam, pronounced “nyam nyam,” is Italian for “yummy.” Owner Selim Oztalay grew up in Germany and enjoyed gelato throughout Europe. Similar to ice cream, gelato is denser, creamier and often more flavorful, sometimes with fewer calories.
This spring, Gnam Gnam Gelato began serving more food items, adding tapas-style offerings to the soups and sandwiches that had been offered before.
Although not fine dining in the sense of clothed tables and waitstaff service, the expectation of two or more tapas choices to create a full meal places dinner within mid-priced guidelines. Orders are placed at the counter, with delivery to your table after cooking.
A light fare/sandwich menu is available daily. A vegetable panini ($7.50) makes a good impression, with color and flavor, featuring eggplant, yellow squash and onions garnished with iceberg lettuce and Roma tomato on grilled bread. Dill mayonnaise sharpens the flavors. Sliders ($6.75 for three) are small hamburger patties — a little dense, but emitting solid beef flavor — joined by iceberg lettuce and Roma tomato on mini-buns.
I was pleased with two pastas from the regular menu. Pasta Bolognese ($7.50) blends an abundance of ground beef with crushed tomatoes, accented by a fairly spicy chili. Pasta Aglio Olio ($7.50) is spicy hot, joining sliced artichokes and red peppers with a little garlic and olive oil.
Tapas specials are served Wednesday through Friday starting at 5 p.m. Selections change about once a month, maybe a little more often in summer. Four medium-large sauteed lemon shrimp ($9.95) are deveined and cooked just a little firm but are pleasantly flavored from the lemon accent. Lots of rice (the menu says fried, but I did not get that texture or flavor) with diced carrots plus a little celery and onion hosts the presentation. I found this a little pricey for what we got.
Other tapas dishes earned solid points for value, however, in addition to flavor. Chicken Piccata ($9.95) uses a half breast, slightly firm, yielding a bright lemon-caper accent over a subtle butter flavor. This is covered with a little spinach. Beef tenderloin ($11.95) produces solid flavor from the meat, is reasonably tender and is enhanced by fresh mushrooms and cream.
Pasta Alfredo ($9.95) presents sharp flavor from artichokes within mellow, creamy Alfredo-style pasta with roasted red peppers. Pieces of pan-roasted chicken, enhanced with spinach and caper butter sauce, complete the conception.
Broccoli pesto penne ($9.95) with roasted Portobello mushrooms exudes rich flavor from mushrooms, roasted red pepper strips and sauteed eggplant that is undergirded by melted mozzarella cheese. I noted little broccoli, however.
Another vegetable-based tapas selection presents eggplant ($9.95) rolled around a blended cheese filling. The resulting flavor combination showed a good balance of cheese, tomatoes and a fairly spicy tomato sauce.
Tapas selections come with a vegetable choice. German-style pan-fried potatoes are almost home fries, delivering excellent simple potato flavor. Green beans are fresh, blanched, then sauteed in butter, served al dente.
On one occasion, our dish included a small salad of mixed greens with a sharp balsamic vinaigrette. On another occasion, somebody forgot to include the vegetables.
I would return, especially on Wednesday nights, which are particularly inviting for half-priced wines. Although only a few selections are provided, they are all enjoyable and represent a good value even at full price. On other nights, Gnam Gnam is a good choice for takeout or a light dinner.
And don’t neglect the gelato. It’s one of the best desserts in the Triad.
John Batchelor is a freelance contributor who has been reviewing restaurants for more than 25 years. You can reach him at P.O. Box 20848, Greensboro, NC 27420, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find his recent columns, visit GoTriad.com.