Longing for the home-cooked meals and dinnertime conversation he had grown up with, Scaravella decided to open a restaurant that would bring to the masses something that was so intimate and personal for him. Scaravella then placed an advertisement in America Oggi , an Italian American newspaper based in Brooklyn. How did Scaravella decide whom to hire for his restaurant?
Nonna's House: Cooking and Reminiscing with the Italian Grandmothers of Enoteca Maria
What food their mother made for them. The food is, after all, authentic Italian, which can be somewhat surprising to the unacquainted diner.
A meal prepared by Nonna Francesca, a native of Calabria—a region in southwestern Italy—could include some more popular items like baked clams or freshly made sausage. It can also veer into the exotic—or the familiar, depending on the person—if you choose the lamb hearts, the breaded sweetbreads, or the sliced beef testicles as your main course.
Photo by Maria Zimnis.
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The restaurant is divided into two kitchens: The downstairs kitchen is reserved for Italian grandmothers, while upstairs is for grandmothers with other heritage. Despite language barriers, the grandmothers always manage to create a truly unique and special experience.
Like Scaravella, many of the grandmothers who come into Enoteca Maria share a similar desire to connect and nurture their own loss, whether it is a loved one or leaving behind their homeland. After losing her husband, Greek grandmother Ploumitsa Zimnis was introduced to the restaurant by her daughter, Maria, in an effort to help her through her grief.
With assistance from her daughter, Ploumitsa has made it a tradition to come in at least once a month and cook for guests. Sometimes calamari salad.
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On top of all that, they recognize the liberation they enjoy in America, the freedom to earn a living, to divorce, to bring up their children as they see fit, to socialize and to embrace the excitement of living near New York City. And all of the grandmothers, most of whom have had very difficult childhoods, embrace the convenience of American living.
Here is a great 8 minute video introducing the restaurant, very sweet and touching:. From the book's description: This beautiful collection of food and nostalgia features great traditions from the heart of Italy, with delicious recipes and colorful stories from the internationally celebrated grandmothers of Enoteca Maria—a one-of-a-kind Italian restaurant where a rotating cast of nonnas are the star chefs.
Here are their delicious homemade pastas, risottos, desserts, and more, which have foodies from all over the world taking the ferry to the forgotten borough for an authentic taste of Italy. Beautiful full-color photography captures the fresh, distinctive flavors of these surprising dishes. Nonna Francesca launches the book with advice on the time-honored art of preserving everything from olives to soppressata. Please visit the restaurant's website.
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Labels: Cookbook , Hyphenated Italian , Memoirs.
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