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All the chefs at this popular New York restaurant are grandmas

3 min read

Better Society
All the chefs at this popular New York restaurant are grandmas
Source: None

Staten Island’s Enoteca Maria is a restaurant whose kitchen is run by grandmas from all over the world, each with their own traditional recipes.

Each night, a “nonna” from a different country designs a fresh menu

At Enoteca Maria, an “Italian” restaurant on Hyatt Street, Staten Island, half of the menu changes daily. The fixed half is Italian; the rest is left for rotating cuisines from all over the world, and the people calling the shots are not professional chefs; they are grandmothers. Each night, a “nonna” (Italian for grandmother) from a different country designs a fresh menu, honouring her native cuisine. Friday was Sri Lanka; Thursday, the Philippines; Tuesday, Armenia, and next Sunday’s menu: Russia.

Enoteca Maria is a special place where... every day a different Nonna from another part of the World will delight you with the local cuisine, as a very eclectic mix of music plays. Source: Facebook/ActionProductionsLondon

Enoteca Maria’s story

Joe Scaravella was born and raised in Brooklyn. Both his parents were hard workers, seldom home. De facto the head of the household in the family was his mother’s mother, Nonna Domenica…. She was the one who passed down to them her culture with, at its very heart, her culinary traditions. 

Joe remembers her going to the market everyday with her shopping cart. She stopped at the vegetable shops and bit a peach or tasted a cherry, and if it was good she would buy them, otherwise she would spit it on the ground with a disgusted expression on her face. He was amazed that nobody ever complained about it, but after all everybody there knew her.

Growing up Joe realised that his grandmother had been the repository of his family’s culture and identity. And he found out that, like her, millions of grandmothers all over the world pass down their heritage to their grandchildren. Nine years ago, moved by the wish of sharing Italian grandmothers’ culinary culture Scaravella opened a restaurant, Enoteca Maria.

At Enoteca several Italian grandmothers from different Italian regions cook their own menus on a rotating schedule.

Each night, a “nonna” (Italian for grandmother) from a different country designs a fresh menu, honouring her native cuisine.
Owner Joe Scaravella with “Nonna of the Day” May Joseph from Sri Lanka Each night, a “nonna” (Italian for grandmother) from a different country designs a fresh menu, honouring her native cuisine. Source: Facebook/EnotecaMaria

The next natural step was inviting grandmothers of different countries to cook at the restaurant

In 2011 Joe started flirting with the idea of extending the concept to other culinary cultures. He began working on the creation of the virtual book “Nonnas of the World”: A crowd sourced recipe book where anybody around the world can upload their grandmother’s short bio, 3 photos and a recipe (written in their native language).

His vision for the book was to become the most extensive collection of grandmothers’ recipes, their particular dialect and memories, a testament to culinary culture of common people from all over the world. The next natural step, in July 2016, was inviting grandmothers of different countries to cook at the restaurant. That was how Enoteca Maria was born.

Source: EnotecaMaria

The two kitchens at Enoteca Maria will continue to serve regional Italian cuisine from the nonne of Italy, while offering a second menu of a different nonna every night from any and every country in the world.
Nonnas of the World The two kitchens at Enoteca Maria will continue to serve regional Italian cuisine from the nonne of Italy, while offering a second menu of a different nonna every night from any and every country in the world. Source: Facebook/EnotecaMaria

Nonnas of the World

These are the current Nonnas of the World:

Yumi from Tokyo, Japan

Carmen from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mariela from Vargas, Venezuela

Nina from Brest, Belarus

Rosa Maria of Medellin, Colombia

Habiba of Oran, Algeria

Mafuza of Bangladesh

Zena of Kamishly, Syria

Helena from Prague, Czech Republic

Adelina from Casola, Napoli, Italy

Zuleyka from Mao, Dominican Republic

Carmelina from Marcianise, Napoli, Italy

Nadezhda of Mezhdurechensk, Kazakhstan

Rosa from Schio, Vicenza, Italy

Christina from Bergamo, Lombardia, Italy

Marita from Cuenca, Ecuador

Ploumitsa from Chios, Greece

Maria of Torella dei Lombardi, Campania, Italy

Jolanta of Suwalki, Poland

Monique of Chateauroux, France

Luisa from Piacenza, Italy

Rosaria from Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy

Margherita of Casteldaccia, Palermo, Italy

Hulya of Turkey

Adriana of Spoleto, Umbria, Italy

Make an Impact

Check out "Nonnas of the World": a truly cosmopolitan recipe book FREE here!

“Nonnas of the World” is a crowd sourced recipe book where anybody around the world can upload their grandmother’s short bio, 3 photos and a recipe (written in their native language). Joe's vision is for this book to become the most extensive collection of grandmothers’ recipes, their particular dialect and memories, and a testament to culinary culture of common people from all over the world.