By Nancy Saunders
When you walk by Nook, you’ll immediately want to be on the inside. Its welcoming vibe and impeccably designed interior make this neighbourhood hangout a perfect place to enjoy delicious Italian food and wine with family and friends.
Owner Cait Jeffs comes from a family of entrepreneurs, including a brother who is a chef who owns three restaurants in Vancouver, two of which are also called Nook. Jeffs sent chef Nathan Dube to Vancouver to learn from her brother. Dube returned and designed an authentic menu using traditional Italian ingredients like creamy burrata cheese, olives, garlic, rich meats, arugula, and herbs.
Nook took shape quickly. Jeffs applied for the permit at the end of 2014; renovations were done by Jeffs’ husband’s general contracting company, and the lighting and seating came from Portobello Home next door. The restaurant’s concept is similar to its namesake in Vancouver—a local pizzeria where regulars go often, rather than a “destination restaurant” that hopes to draw people from outside the community. The attraction is simple, with a menu of antipasto, a salad, five pizzas, five pastas, three crostinis, and daily specials. Pizzas are cooked in a gas-powered stone hearth pizza oven in the open kitchen. Seating is a mix of tables, benches, stools at the bar, and a few stools right at the kitchen. An exciting feature is the generous patio, which Jeffs hopes to heat to keep open into October or even November.
The wine list is exclusively Italian, offering a selection you might not find elsewhere in Thunder Bay. There are two cocktails on the menu, and a selection of beer available on tap. The sole dessert is a tiramisu, which some say is the best they’ve ever tasted, and the coffee is from St. Paul Roastery.
Since opening July 2, Nook has already had repeat customers and is steadily growing its base of regulars. Its downtown location at Bay and Algoma make it just a walk away for many. Filling a void of dining options on Sunday and Monday nights, it’s open Wednesday through Monday. Hours are 4:30 pm to 10 pm weekdays, and 4:30 pm to 11 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Nook also offers takeout.