Grandmas, Not Chefs, Prepare Traditional Italian Meals at This New York Restaurant

posted: 10/14/16
by: Blythe Copeland

Craving dinner the way your nana used to make it? Try a meal at New York's Enoteca Maria, where the meals are prepared by a kitchen full of grandmothers -- instead of a staff of professional chefs. Owner Jody Scaravella employs a diverse roster of grandmas cooking the best dishes from their homelands; he started with nonnas making traditional Italian specialties, but guest cooks have come from Poland, Nigeria, Argentina, and many other countries worldwide.

The restaurant also keeps one nonno on staff: The resident pasta maker, Giuseppe Freya, who turns out fresh ravioli, gnocchi, lasagna noodles, and more. Scaravella told Gothamist he's been flattered by the guests who come from as far away as Australia to dine on the traditional meals. "Usually at the end of the day, the people will applaud the nonnas that have cooked for them. They get standing ovations on a regular basis and it's really something nice."

As part of an an effort to "keep alive the passing down of technique and knowledge from one generation to another, and from one culture to another," the grandmothers also offer one-on-one cooking classes at the restaurant; sign up for your own lesson on the website.