TL;DR Nonna > Lucia
What's everybody's thoughts on Italian?
If I'm not mistaken, I think the general consensus is that Nonna and Lucia are the only real Italian joints in Dallas. It's my favorite cuisine, and as such, me and the gf have become regulars at both establishments. I can say, unequivocally and based on frequenting both places for two years, that while both are great, Nonna is better than Lucia.
Having said that, I think Lucia has more cachet and exclusivity, due mainly to their small size and location. It's such a shoebox of a restaurant with a corresponding reservation policy that hypes the place up so much. Lucia doesn't hit the spot for me, as it seems almost painfully Tuscan. Odd pasta combinations such as seaweed linguini and clams or raviolis soaking in parmigiana brodo that aren't bad but aren't what I'm looking for when I think Italian. I'm not looking for spaghetti and meatballs, but come on. For lack of a better word, Lucia's food is a little "weird."
When I go to Nonna, the place just scratches an itch, know what I mean? The pastas are fantastic and at least feel authentic. The menu in general is larger and more diverse. They actually have a liquor license and offer far more wine options by the glass. The desserts change daily (aside from the mainstay panna cotta, semifreddo, and toffee pudding). David Uygur does a fine job handling desserts in addition to being exec chef at Lucia, but Nonna has a dedicated pastry chef in supplementing Julian Barsotti and the results are apparent.
I can honestly say I've never had a bad meal at Nonna. It's been great to perfect everytime. I have had mediocre or worse meals at Lucia, particularly one time when the seabass was horribly overcooked.
If I could only go to one, it'd be Nonna. They seem to be regularly busy, but I'm a little sad they don't get quite the prestige that Lucia seems to.
What does everyone else think?