Biz that Gives
Inside the NYC Restaurant Run By Grandmas [Video]
- Enoteca Maria in Staten Island, New York, is a restaurant where Italian grandmothers, or “nonnas,” cook traditional family meals they served their families for decades.
- Founder Joe Scaravella created the restaurant in honor of his late grandmother and expanded the staff to include nonnas from other countries as well, resulting in a diverse array of cuisines from around the world.
- Enoteca Maria provides an outlet for nonna chefs to express their cultural heritage and culinary talents, while also bringing joy, connection, and deliciousness to diners, making it a heartwarming and unique dining experience.
Step into Enoteca Maria in Staten Island, New York, and you’ll be greeted with the warm embrace of Italian grandmothers, lovingly called “nonnas,” who are busy cooking up traditional family meals. What started as a way to honor the memory of his own grandmother has turned into a heartwarming celebration of culture and cuisine, with nonnas from different countries sharing their culinary talents with diners.
Joe Scaravella, who founded Enoteca Maria in March 2007, has created a heartwarming culinary experience that celebrates different cultures and brings people together. Scaravella’s restaurant, named in honor of his late mother Maria, features Italian grandmothers, or “nonnas,” cooking traditional family meals that they have served for decades. However, it doesn’t stop there. Scaravella has also added nonnas from other countries, including Japan, Peru, Sri Lanka, and more, creating a melting pot of flavors and cultures that has captured the hearts and taste buds of diners.
“They’re so full of love, they hug me and they hug the customers,” Scaravella says with a smile.
With 30 rotating nonnas on staff, ranging in age from 50 to 91, Enoteca Maria offers a diverse array of cuisines from around the world. The nonnas take turns cooking their native dishes three nights a week, and diners are treated to a taste of authentic homemade delights that change daily. From roasted lamb with potatoes in a white wine sauce to miso grilled salmon and Japanese eggplant, the menu is a reflection of the rich cultural heritage and culinary expertise of the nonna chefs.
But it’s not just about the food at Enoteca Maria. For these nonnas, cooking and sharing their meals with others is a source of joy, fulfillment, and connection. Many of them have lost their husbands and seen their children grow up and move out, and Enoteca Maria provides them with an outlet to express their cultural heritage and culinary talents. Scaravella describes them as “packed with culture” and in need of an outlet, which the restaurant happily provides.
For Scaravella, Enoteca Maria is not just a restaurant, but a labor of love and therapy. It has brought back the sense of joy and connection he missed after his grandmother’s passing, and it has become a place where people can come together to share in the love, warmth, and deliciousness of homemade meals.
So if you’re in Staten Island and looking for a heartwarming and delicious dining experience, head to Enoteca Maria, where the nonna chefs will welcome you with open arms, full of love, and serve up a taste of their cultural heritage that will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. Mangia!