17th Feb 2017

Meet the nonnas taking over the New York food scene

Meet the nonnas taking over the New York food scene
Image: Facebook
Leon Della Bosca


There’s just something about nonna’s cooking: traditional recipes prepared with love and the benefit of years of experience. So, it should come as no surprise then, that behind every great meal at Enoteca Maria is a great grandmother.


Enoteca Maria boasts a rather cool concept. That is, each night, one of the resident Italian nonnas, along with a guest nonna from a different nation, cook traditional recipes from their particular part of the world.


The restaurant offers a rotating menu which changes every night, so diners will rarely, if ever, eat the same thing twice.


The owner Jody Scaravella was born and raised in Brooklyn in a tight-knit Italian family.


“Growing up I realised that my grandmother had been the repository of our family culture and identity. And I found out that, like her, millions of grandmothers all over the world pass down their heritage to their grandchildren,” says Mr Scaravella.


He then created a cookbook called Nonnas of the World, (pssst – it's free to view!) a crowd-sourced recipe book that contains recipes from, you guessed it, nonnas from all over the world. Each recipe is written in the language and dialect of the region.


The next logical step was the creation of Enoteca Maria. Scaravella’s idea was to have grandmothers in the kitchen cooking their traditional food for the grandchildren of New York.


nonnas at enoteca maria

Image: Facebook


The eight Italian nonnas hail from all over Italy, cooking dishes native to the Palermo, Abruzzo, Campania, Umbria, and Napoli regions. They are joined by guest nonnas including Nonna Ploumitsa from Greece, Nonna Zena from Syria, Nonna Anna from Armenia, Venezuelan Nonna Mariela, Bangladeshi Nonna Muhfuza and Nonna Alexandra from Bulgaria.


In total, there are 23 nonnas currently on the roster, which means each nonna only works once a month.


Enoteca Maria is proving to be a hit with residents from all over New York, as well as foreign tourists looking for a taste of home.


Do you think a restaurant such as this would work well in Australia?

Related articles:
What grandmas cook


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Ageing but not getting old
18th Feb 2017
For sure! We have become a foodie nation. I first visited Australia in 1981, and noticed a relative sparseness in variety of international cuisines. Visited again in '83 & '85 and migrated in '97. I noticed a slight change every time and have been very pleased & impressed by the 'explosion' of cuisines that Australia has taken on (especially here in Perth). For a girl born & raised in NYC, you can appreciate my thoughts on this. I could see a multi-cuisine, (grandmothers' food) restaurant filling a yet-unexplored niche in most (if not all) capital cities. If it's not horribly expensive, I'd certainly eat there once a month, rotating cuisines, of course....

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