Years ago an advertising campaign for a beer used the slogan, "It's the water, and a lot more." If Osteria Nonni, a spare, mod Italian restaurant in Atwater, ever mounted an advertising blitz, they should use, "It's the dough, and a lot more."
The dough is featured prominently in the menu here, from the pizza and calzone to the sandwiches and house bread. The origins of the dough could be called the Angeli-Pasquale Connection. Nasser Saee, the owner of Osteria Nonni, was a friend of the owner of Angeli, a trend-setting Italian eatery on Melrose. It was Angeli's original pizza chef, Pasquale Morra, who designed the menu at Nonni.
You might begin a meal here with two fried treats that Angeli customers will recognize: arancini ($1.50), a tomato-flavored rice croquette stuffed with mozzarella and peas, and the croquettes di patate ($1.50), a potato version stuffed with smoked mozzarella and salami.
Salad options include insalata al caprino ($6.50), tender leaves of bibb lettuce, roasted garlic and a mustard vinaigrette topped with goat-cheese croutons, or the insalata all rucola ($6.50), a potpourri of vivid flavors, with the bitter, aromatic salad green arugula mixed with fennel, anchovies, Parmesan, olive oil and lemon.
For the calzone al forno ($8.25), the pizza dough encases mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and black olives. Pizza al quattro stagioni ($8) features four pizzas in one, with slices of artichokes and mushrooms, prosciutto and salami, garlic and oregano, basil and Parmesan.
Osteria Nonni, 3219 Glendale Blvd., (213) 666-7133.