Conventional solid-density laser-plasma targets quickly ionize to make a plasma mirror, which largely reflects ultra-intense laser pulses. This Fresnel reflection at the plane boundary largely wastes our e
orts at ultra-intense laser/solid interaction, and limits target heating to nonlinear generation of high-energy electrons which penetrate inward. One way around this dual problem is to create a material with an anisotropic dielectric function, for instance by nanostructuring a material in such a way that it cannot support the material responses which generate a specularly reflected beam. We present linear theory for metallic and plasma nanowires, particle-incell simulations of the interaction of ultra-intense femtosecond pulses with nickel nanowires, showing penetration of laser light far deeper than a nickel skin-depth, helping to uniformly heat near-solid material to conditions of high energy-densities, and XFEL experiments giving insight into their ionization and excitation.