Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 p.m.
Members $85, guests $110
"People will drive 100 miles just to eat at Nana's,"
cookbook author, Raleigh native, and Nana's regular Jean
Anderson has written. Luckily, the folks who live near
the vibrant Research Triangle, where Nana's
is located, don't have to.
Howell is a hometown boy who has made good. The Asheville
native was weaned on traditional Southern cooking, and though he
now easily tosses off contemporary dishes
like roast duck with baked polenta in a huckleberry-balsamic sauce,
and pan-seared red grouper with butter beans
in braised baby octopus sauce, he remains firm about his all-time
favorite-pulled pork barbecue sandwiches.
Howell even wrote an article on Carolina barbecue for Fine Cooking
magazine, and he served barbecue as the centerpiece
at his own wedding.
After finishing college, Howell left his hometown to attend the
CIA. Both while a student and after graduation,
he worked in such venerable New York restaurants as Jams,
Arcadia, and Bouley.
He took a turn in Imola, Italy at the Michelin two-star San
Domenico and one in Los Angeles at the acclaimed Campanile.
But while Howell thrived on studying unfamiliar cuisines and techniques,
he missed home. As he told Anderson in an article for Food
& Wine, "I wanted to make my mark in North Carolina. I wanted
to come back and start makin' food happen."
So in 1990, Howell returned to Raleigh, at first working under Ben
Barker at the popular Magnolia Grill.
Less than two years later, Howell struck out on his own. Nana's
is named for his grandmother; he also runs
a casual trattoria, Pop's, named for
grandpa. And in both establishments, great
food is indeed "happening."
Esquire critic John Mariani
included Nana's in his roundup of the best new restaurants of 1993.
He cited it as "a perfect example" of the way "regional American
food, sensibly influenced by nontraditional
flavors, is unbeatable when it comes to gastronomic satisfaction."
Dee Walston of the Herald-Sun
put it far more simply: "Nana's," she wrote, "has some of the best