nonnas of the world

Does your Nana, Nonie or Nonna have a special recipe to share that has been handed down through generations? In New York there’s a lovely restaurant, Enoteca Maria, in Staton Island that has grandmothers from around the world creating their authentic family dishes every week. Enoteca Maria has two kitchens on site so there’s plenty of space for the traditional Italian menu alongside each Nonna’s diverse recipes.

This is such a lovely idea, it would be amazing to have something similar here in New Zealand – with our culturally diverse communities surely there would be a lot of Nonnas with skills and recipes to share.

Online there is also a virtual recipe book made up of entries, submitted by the public, of grandmothers and their favourite recipes from around the world.

Nonnas of the World Virtual Book

Culture is a resource worth preserving. After all a tree can’t grow and change without its roots. To uphold this mission we have pioneered a virtual book project that collects the recipes and stories of grandmothers from around the world called Nonnas of the World. Plans are in the works to turn the book into a fully interactive online community. Stay tuned!.

About the Restaurant

At Enoteca Maria we celebrate cultural diversity by serving cuisines from around the world, but we do it in the most uniquely authentic way possible. Real grandmothers from every country across the globe are invited and hired as chefs to cook the recipes handed down to them that they cook at home for their families, that make up the fabric of the culture they were born and raised in. We aspire to build cultural connections through the universal language of cooking, and one way we can do that besides eating it, is teaching it! We hold classes where aspiring chefs can get the opportunity to learn from the nonnas in the kitchen.

How it all came about ….

Joe Scaravella, proprietor of Enoteca Mariawas born and raised in Brooklyn.

From Joe ….

Both my parents were hard workers, seldom home. De facto the head of the household in our family was my mother’s mom, Nonna Domenica. She is the one who passed down to us her culture with, at its very heart, her culinary traditions.

I remember her going to the market everyday bringing her shopping cart. She stopped at the vegetable shops and bit a peach or tasted a cherry, and if it good she bought them otherwise she spit it on the ground with a disgusted expression on her face. I was amazed that nobody ever complained about it but after all everybody there knew her.

Growing up I realised that my grandmother had been the repository of our family culture and identity. And I found out that, like her, millions of grandmothers all over the world pass down their heritage to their grandchildren.

Nine years ago, moved by the wish of sharing Italian grandmother’s culinary culture I opened a restaurant, Enoteca Maria. At Enoteca several Italian grandmothers from different Italian regions cook their own menus on a rotating schedule.

In 2011 I started flirting with the idea of extending the concept to other culinary cultures. I began working on the creation of the virtual book Nonnas of the World. A crowd sourced recipe book where anybody around the world can upload their grandmother’s short bio, 3 photos and a recipe (written in their native language). My vision’s for this book to become the most extensive collection of grandmother’s recipes, their particular Dialect and memories, a testament to culinary culture of common people from all over the world.

Next natural step, in July 2015, was inviting grandmothers of different countries to cook at the restaurant.

Restaurant Hours of Operation

Friday, Saturday & Sunday open at 2:30 pm. Our seatings are 2:30pm, 5:30pm, and 7:30pm.

Here are some of the Nonna’s that have created beautiful dishes this year

Friday, May 10 Nonna Fatma from Turkey

Saturday, May 11 Nonna Irene from Puerto Rico

Sunday, May 12 Nonna Claudia from Mexico

Friday, May 17 Nonna Shireen from Bangladesh

Saturday, May 18 Nonna Ploumitsa from Greece

Sunday, May 19 Nonna Carmen from Argentina

Friday, May 24 Nonna Dolly from Sri Lanka

Saturday, May 25 Nonna Adelina from Italy

Sunday, May 26 Nonna Claudia from Mexico

Friday, May 31 Nonna Shireen from Bangladesh

Saturday, June 1 Nonna Siham from Syria

Sunday, June 2 Nonna Rosa from Peru

Friday, June 7 Nonna Helana from Egypt

And coming up is …

Friday, June 14 Nanny Bubby, Marla, with traditional Jewish Cuisine

*Note that the restaurant only accepts cash