Our daughter Kate graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan this spring.  During her stay in New York City she was on a quest to find small, unique restaurants.  She found just the place in Staten Island, one that serves up homemade Italian meals.

Taking “Homemade Italian” Literally

The 35-seat Enoteca Maria restaurant brings in grandmothers to cook for customers: nonnas from Napoli, Sicily, Abruzzo, Venice, Milan, and Campania.

What’s for dinner? Depends on who’s in the kitchen and which ingredients are in the refrigerator. Every day, one of the eight grandmothers employed by owner Joe Scaravella arrives at about 3 p.m. and gets cooking.

The best dishes, from recipes handed down generation to generation, are served randomly throughout the week.  The food is authentic Italian, full-flavored and made with love (and without a microwave).  The grandmothers relish their time with the staff and customers.

The only question one Italian woman asked before accepting the position: “Who does the dishes?”

Sometimes, when the nonnas get together, they disagree on recipes, “but then we have a glass of wine and all differences are resolved.”

Kate loved her delicioso meal at Enoteca Maria; however, the intergenerational connections between the Italian grandmothers, the customers and the community at large made for a unique experience. The applause for the nonna-chef of the night could be heard down the street.

Owner Joe Scarvalla is a Nice Bike kinda guy.  He acknowledges the talents of the nonnashonors their talents and connects them to the community. Now, that’s Italian. Nice Bike, Joe!

Do you have a favorite restaurant that serves up great homemade food, or great connections, like the ones at Enoteca Maria? Leave a few crumbs below.