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Meet the 'Nonnas of the World' serving authentic family recipes

Recently updated on April 30th, 2024 at 05:49 pm

Imagine if you could experience the world’s cultures without leaving the dinner table. Usually when we eat at a restaurant, we stay within its four walls. Correct? But not at Enoteca Maria in Staten Island, New York. Instead, 30 to 40 Nonnas (in Italian: grandmothers) from different countries take you across borders and into the cosy comfort of their family homes – where they have been making delicious, authentic family recipes for generations.

authentic family recipes

“Every time one of these Nonnas is in the kitchen you have a thousand years of culture coming out of their fingertips.”

Joe Scaravella (founder and owner of Enoteca Maria)

After Joe’s mother passed away, he immediately craved home comfort food and felt nostalgia for his upbringing (by his Italian grandmother in Messina, northeastern Sicily) and the scrumptious dishes she used to cook for him. Joe took this feeling and immediately had the idea for Enoteca Maria: a restaurant all about grandmother’s cooking. After seeing a clear gap in the marketplace and with huge belief in the cultural value of his concept, he opened Enoteca Maria in 2007. Today, it remains his first and only restaurant.

Which authentic family recipes can I eat at Enoteca Maria?

Enoteca Maria has two kitchens: one serving Italian food (cooked by Italian Nonnas), and the other starring a Nonna (or two) from a different world country.

So far, outside of Italy, Nonnas from the following countries have served authentic family recipes as ‘The Dish of the Day’ at Enoteca Maria:

Argentina, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Siberia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey and Venezuela.

Now let’s meet some Nonnas and admire their authentic family recipes. Hope you’re hungry.

Dolly, from Sri Lanka, serves traditional ‘hoppers and curry’

Dolly serves an authentic family recipe from Sri Lanka

Christiana, from Bergamo (Italy), prepares fresh tomatoes for a pasta dish 

Christina prepares an authentic family recipe

Carmen, from Argentina, presents mouth-watering ribs from her hometown.

Carmen's authentic family recipe from Argentina

Carmen is serving at Enoteria Maria on 27th August 2022, so make sure to get a seat if you are near Staten Island. 

Authentic food travel at its best

The true mark of Enoteca’s authenticity is that none of these Nonnas have worked in restaurants before. They are simply grandmothers who serve delicious food from their home countries, and treat the making of these authentic family recipes as the most important thing in the world. They are immensely proud to share the fabric of their homeland.

Many now live alone, and were reluctant to take on ‘employment’ at first, but when Joe Scavarella explained the mission to them – that they will cook their favourite meals for their ‘new children’ of the restaurant – they were ecstatic!

“We celebrate cultural diversity by serving cuisines from around the world, but we do it in the most uniquely authentic way possible.”

Joe Scavarella

You can take a seat here on Trafalgar’s New York Explorer tour

You read that right. Guests on our New York Explorer (5-day tour) are escorted to their private sitting at Enoteca Maria, located a stone’s throw away from Staten Island’s ferry point.

Prepare to be treated like long-lost family and flung across borders with delightful dishes. From Sicilian Pasta Alla Norma (pasta with marinara and eggplant) to Argentinian dolma (lamb with rice wrapped in bay leaves) or a Japanese matcha green tea cheesecake – Enoteca can transport you anywhere.

Find out which home you will enter and which authentic family recipes you will try on the day. But one thing that is clear – you would be a fool to pass up grandmother’s cooking.

RELATED CONTENT: Why a love for travel never fades (according to our Trafalgar community)

Hungry to try authentic family recipes from Nonnas? Discover more about our New York explorer here.

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