the joyful traveller

Enoteca Maria, New York

At this Staten Island restaurant, it’s all about the Nonnas

It’s about grandmothers. I was born in Brooklyn, raised by my grandmother…she was the sweetest, kindest woman in the world, and the best cook.  I wanted to recreate that part of my life that was lost…seeing a grandma cooking in the kitchen, it was very comforting…and that was what it all about.– –

Jody Scaravellaowner of Enoteca Maria, on the idea behind his famous Staten Island restaurant

With hairnet in place, Nonna Adelina came to visit our table to say “hello,” which she loves to do.  We chatted a bit before she went back to the kitchen.  From Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, she said she had been working since 10 am that morning.  Asked if she was tired, she shook her head, no.  Of course not.  With two working parents, Scaravella’s grandmother, Nonna Domenica, was a big force in his life, the one who “passed down to us her culture, with at its very heart, her culinary traditions.”  With a mission to keep these family recipes alive, he has startedthis restaurant and has since added “Nonnas in training,” cooking classes where fans of the restaurant can sign up for a free lesson by aNonna. The catch is that the students don’t have a choice in the chef or nationality.  They take place at the restaurant on weekdays between 12 and 3. (See for registration information.) 

Enoteca Maria is in the St. George section of Staten Island, a five-minute walk from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  With its location next door to the St. George Theatre, make it a double-header with dinner and a show, and if you let Scaravella know you need to make a curtain, he’ll make sure you time it right.

The extensive wine menu took up about four pages and included a choice for every occasion, likeFrizzanti, Rossi, Rose, and Bianchi.And with a brand-new menu every night, one can enjoy Enoteca Maria for years to come and never have the same entrée twice.

For more information on menus, Nonna chefs, and its history, visit  Make a note that the restaurant is a “cash-only” establishment.


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