Jody Scaravella opened Enoteca Maria on Staten Island, not just as a restaurant, but as a personal project close to his heart.

A Culinary Remembrance

"In the beginning, it was a way for me to heal. I lost my grandparents, parents, and other family members, and I was trying to find comfort," shared Scaravella, who founded the restaurant in 2007.

Grandmothers' Legacy

Enoteca Maria boasts an unconventional team of chefs - grandmothers, or "nonnas" in Italian, from diverse backgrounds worldwide. They bring to life cherished recipes passed down through generations, preserving the essence of their cultural heritage.

"Their dishes are a part of their identity, prepared since they were little girls. Now, they share this love and knowledge with our patrons," Scaravella explained.

Unique Menu Rotation

Every weekend, patrons are treated to authentic homemade meals by an Italian nonna and a nonna representing another country. The grandmothers alternate their presence and curate their specialized menus.

Meet Nonna Maria

At 89 years old, Nonna Maria from Torella dei Lombardi in Campania, Italy, has been an integral part of Enoteca Maria for over a decade.

"I enjoy cooking, but most of all, I adore the people," Nonna Maria expressed. "My grandmother taught me, and now I pass on the love for beautiful food to others."

A Culinary Journey with Nonnas Around the World

This month at the restaurant, diners can enjoy a variety of delectable entrees, such as capuzzelle - lamb's head roasted with fresh herbs, vegetables, and baked with white wine; branzino al cartoccio - Mediterranean sea bass baked in parchment paper with a lemon-herb sauce; classic lasagna, and braised bone-in duck.

Embracing Global Grandmothers

Embracing cultural diversity in culinary traditions, nonnas from Italy, Bangladesh, Egypt, Mexico, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Puerto Rico are slated to showcase their talents in the kitchen of this restaurant named after Scaravella's late mother.

Unlocking Cooking Secrets

For those eager to learn from these seasoned chefs, the restaurant offers classes where aspiring cooks can delve into the culinary techniques passed down through generations. Additionally, specialty sauces crafted by the nonnas are available for purchase, a venture initiated during the closure period due to COVID-19 and now a staple offering.

Preserving Grandmother's Legacy

Scaravella initiated a remarkable virtual cookbook project titled "Nonnas of the World," designed to collect recipes and tales from grandmothers worldwide. This crowdsourced recipe repository welcomes individuals globally to share a brief biography of their grandmother, three photos, and a recipe penned in their native tongue. The aspiration is to safeguard not only recipes but also dialects and cherished memories from various corners of the globe.

Beyond Dining

With three seatings available on operational days and a seating capacity of 30, reservations are recommended for a dining experience that transcends mere meals. Scaravella encapsulates this sentiment by expressing, "Whether from Italy or Japan, these nonnas bring forth not just food but also a sense of comfort and rich history. Our establishment is more than just a restaurant."

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