By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
In addition to Nova's short menu of five appetizers, five pizzas and five entrées, there are often specials, and I was lucky to be in the house the same night as a chicken liver starter. Liver's too often given the kid-gloves treatment in restaurants that traffic in demi-glaces and truffle oil, making Nova's rough and rustic handling of the first comfort offal a welcome revelation. The craggy lumps of fabulously flavorful liver were submerged in a chunky, piquant diablo sauce that probably would have been good on anything.
A different, but equally good, sauce was used on the Margherita pizza, which suffered only from inconsistent charring on its terrifically chewy crust. The sauce, cheese and toppings were meted out in sensible proportions, and the charming pie tasted simple and clean. It certainly didn't need the viscous balsamic glaze that the kitchen initially forgot to apply: The sauce's sweetness drowned out the pizza's otherwise nicely balanced flavors.
Nova makes a decent Angus burger, although its meatiness was overwhelmed by the thick tomatoes, ruffles of romaine, honey-mustard sauce, blue cheese and bacon. The fries are odd, too: They're eerily similar to McDonalds' iconic french fries.
I didn't much like an entrée of jerk chicken, which was dry and overcooked the night I tried it, and had a eucalyptus tang. A promising strip steak was also undone by overcooking, although the accompanying mess of leafy bok choy and cucumber was nice. Probably the best main plate I sampled was a blackened halibut on special: The fish was satisfyingly buttery and perfectly cooked.
My hunch is Nova's staff is always friendly, even to patrons who don't ride bikes, but the eagerly awaited bike friendliness finally surfaced when my server brought my bill: Nova takes 10 percent off cyclist's checks. Even better, when I went to unlock my bike, the manager scampered after me, asking "May I fill your water bottle with fresh, cold water?"
Still, the bike friendliness didn't compare to the cab friendliness that greeted my party on my first visit. I'm not sure we would have been welcomed any more enthusiastically if we'd arrived in a coach pulled by six white horses. Two staffers ran toward our taxi, introducing themselves to the driver and escorting us into the restaurant.
"We're trying to get more cabs here," one explained.
With the food and ambiance Nova offers, there's no good reason they shouldn't.Nova 1417 W. Davis St., 214-484-7123, www.novadallas.com. Open 5 p.m.-midnight. $$$