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These “Nonnas of the World” Are Behind This Restaurant’s Success and Showing Younger Generations How It’s Done

These “Nonnas of the World” Are Behind This Restaurant’s Success and Showing Younger Generations How It’s Done

By The Sunday Paper Team
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In a Staten Island restaurant run by grandmothers, affectionately called “nonnas of the world,” customers applaud them each night and landing a reservation can take weeks. Enoteca Maria is a small Italian establishment where about a dozen of these nonnas — the Italian word for grandmothers — cook regularly, and it exploded in popularity quickly after it opened.

Restaurant owner Joe Scaravella opened the eatery after losing several of his Italian-born family members, including his grandmother, his mother, and his sister, all of whom were incredible cooks. Hoping to serve the traditional dishes he had been missing, Scaravella developed the restaurant’s concept to feel like going to his nonna’s house for a meal.

“My whole life, I never wanted to go to an Italian restaurant, because it just never hit the spot,” Scaravella said. “These ladies, they’re the source. They are the vessels that carry this information forward.”

Enoteca Maria originally only served Italian food, but it has expanded its cuisine since welcoming in grandmothers from several different countries around the globe to cook. They even offer a one-on-one free class for prospective cooks called “nonnas in training.”

“My favorite part of the job is getting to work with the grandmothers,” said restaurant manager Paola Vento. “You have to see the faces of the nonnas. They are so proud and so excited that they were able to share a part of their culture through food.”

You can read more about these “nonnas of the world” and how they are impacting younger generations through their cooking here.

Question from the Editor: What traditions have your grandparents passed down to you?

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