Enoteca Maria on Staten Island has the most unique (and adorable) group of chefs: grandmas!
The restaurant first opened in 2007, and owner Jody Scaravella based it around the martriarch of his family: his grandmother Nonna Domenica. He started by hiring several Italian grandmothers from different Italian regions cook their own menus on a rotating schedule, and then in 2015, he decided to invite grandmas from all around the world to cook at the restaurant!
“Growing up I realized that my grandmother had been the repository of our family culture and identity,” he said. “And I found out that, like her, millions of grandmothers all over the world pass down their heritage to their grandchildren.”
Sadly, the family-fueled restaurant closed in March due to COVID-19, and it hasn’t reopened since to help keep the grandmas safe.
This fall, they started another project to help support the families and let them cook again: the “Nonnas of the World” homemade products.
New Yorkers can now purchase homemade sauces and stews, lovingly made by the grandmas themselves and packaged in mason jars.
“Our priority remains ensuring our wonderful family of nonnas are safe during these challenging days, and we’re so happy to channel their love and passion for cooking into this new opportunity,” Scaravella says on their website. “The very same hands that brought you our array of homemade regional delights will now be available for your family at home!”
Different “nonnas” represent different cultures and parts of the world. So, try Nonna Pauline’s Spicy Tamarind Sauce from Trinidad & Tobago, or try Nonna Dolly from Sri Lanka’s freshly roasted curry powder!
You can also purchase authentic marinara and ragu sauces, made by their Nonnas in-house.
Order them, along with Nonnas of the World aprons & tote bags, by emailing email@example.com.
It’s a little old school, as you have to pay by e-check or mailed-in check, but it’s a great way to support the local business and the grandmas hard at work!
You can include your shipping address in your email, or local pick-up is also available from Wednesday through Saturday at their Staten Island location (27 Hyatt Street). You can also support via their GoFundMe page.
The Nonnas are also cooking fresh soups they are giving to essential workers free of charge, called “Soup Saturdays.” So sweet!
featured image source: Facebook / Enoteca Maria