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’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.
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.
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
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.