There’s something that few restaurants can truly replicate, and that’s a home-cooked meal made with love. However, there’s one restaurant in Staten Island that’s getting pretty darn close: Enoteca Maria, where the kitchen is staffed by grandmothers, or “nonnas”, from around the world. For about 10 years now, the kitchen has been opened to grandmothers who wanted to cook the food of their native countries. While it’s traditionally an Italian restaurant, the grandmothers behind Enoteca Maria come from just about everywhere: Argentina, Algeria, Syria, Poland, Nigeria and of course Italy.
The idea began when owner Jody Scavarella placed an ad in an Italian newspaper seeking housewives to cook regional dishes. Over time, his roster has grown by word of mouth and exploded. While some of the grandmas are from Staten Island, most come from Brooklyn, and some are from New Jersey and the Bronx. In addition to the various grandmas, there’s one “nonno”, a Calabrian who makes all of the pasta. Every night two different nonnas work: one from Italy, and one from another part of the world. This way, it’s an Italian restaurant that sneaks in offerings from elsewhere.
According to Scavarella, since each of these nonnas is the matriarch of their particular family unit, each one of them feels like they’re the boss. And when they’re all in a room together, there can be a clash of egos. Nonetheless, these nonnas are a beloved fixture of the community, attracting customers from around the world.
Enoteca Maria offers a home-cooked meal and an experience that few restaurants in New York, let alone the world, can offer. Even if you have a grandma to cook for you, this is a whole other experience. At the end of the day, patrons of the restaurant often applaud the nonnas that cook for them, making it a truly amazing experience for everybody involved.
If you’d like to learn more, you can click here, or go and visit Enoteca Maria for yourself!