Thursday, April 16, 2009

Enoteca Maria, Staten Island, NY -- Nonna's Home Cooking

Enoteca Maria, located at 27 Hyatt Street, Staten Island, New York, is a unique Italian restaurant opened by Denise and Joe Scaravella in February of 2007. It has been receiving rave reviews ever since!

An "enoteca" means wine library, and their wine list offers almost 40 different wines, thoughtfully selected from different regions in Italy. Most of the wines are from small producers who have a focus on artisan wine making techniques. Every wine on the list is also sold by the glass, which offers a fine opportunity to try something new without having to order a whole bottle.
A list of the wines available can be seen on their web site, as well as the menu for the day.

Although the wine list is superb, it is the quality of the food served in the restaurant which keeps bringing its customers back.
Denise and Joe had the idea that instead of hiring trained chefs for their kitchen, they would instead hire older Italian women who had a passion for traditional regional Italian cooking, with recipes that had been passed down in their family through generations, and who were use to cooking for a crowd. They placed ads in Italian-language newspapers of the New York City area and then tested and hired their first six "Nonnas" to come in and have full control over the menu on the night they cooked, each making her own specialties.
Presently they have Adelina from Casola, Napoli, Carmelina from Marcanise, Napoli, Caterina from Toretta, Sicily, Nina from Salerno, Campania, and Teresa from Agrigento, Sicily, each cooking on alternate nights.

This bevy of wonderful Italian women make the menu based on what’s in, what’s fresh, what’s in season, and what is within their individual repertoire of favorite dishes to prepare.

The Nonna cooking on the night we went was Teresa, from Agrigento in southern Sicily.

No matter who is in the kitchen when you go, each meal at Enoteca Maria begins with a generous and complimentary tray of antipasto, selections vary each time. We had small tastes of broccoli rabe, roasted cauliflower and potatoes, marinated eggplant and onion focaccia.

Next, you see my appetizer -- an insalata frutti di mare --a cold and acidic mixture of octopus, calamari rings, shrimp, and celery with a light lemon and olive oil dressing. The seafood was tender and delicious.

My husband chose the stuffed artichoke. It was large, tender and succulent, chock full of seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

We were treated to another complimentary dish of a small bowl of beef stew, cooked in tomato sauce. My husband was in heaven, as it taste exactly like his mother use to make it, with big chunks of celery, carrot and potato. We ate more than half of it before I remembered to take a photo!

Next, I tried the farfalle pasta with a shrimp tomato sauce. It was sweet and delicious, with just the right amount of seasoning.

My husband had his favorite dish -- risotto con funghi porcini -- which was creamy and aromatic.

We even indulged in a couple of delicious desserts! Above is a warm apple pear tart smothered in fresh whipped cream, and below is a sweetened ricotta filled crepe with a sauce of fresh berry puree.

Although Enoteca Maria calls their servings "small plates," the servings were more than adequate and filling, and their atmosphere was friendly, and non rushed.
They have an open kitchen so that you can actually watch the Nonna cooking part of your meal, and very often when there is a break they, or Denise or Joe, will come over to your table to see how you are enjoying your dinner.

I would definitely suggest calling ahead for reservations as the restaurant is not large, and is very popular with both Staten Islanders and Manhattanites who can easily travel to it because of its close location to the Staten Island Ferry.

If you miss your Italian Nonna's cooking, or always wished you had one to cook dinner for you, Enoteca Maria is the answer to your prayers!

Buon appetito! Mangia bene!

33 comments:

Gracie said...

The best cooking is always at home, so a "nonna" cooking in a restaurant it's really a wonderful idea!

Tracy said...

This place looks like a taste of heaven...mmm...nothing like home-style cooking to warm the heart and soul! :o) Happy Day, Pat ((HUGS))

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love this idea and will have to make the trip to Staten Island to have nonna's cooking. There is a place in Manhattan that was based on the same idea - I think it was "Le Madre." Thanks for searching this out and letting us know.

Charli and me said...

Oh my gosh..... I was going to skip breakfast this morning but now I'm hungry. That food looks delicious. I hope you have a happy day!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Oh Pat I loved this post! We will be staying on Staten Island and maybe, just maybe Chris & I will be able to dine there.

Only 3 weeks til our trip! Do you know if you are going to be with darling Leo then? Let me know!

big hugs, Sherry

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Pat,
This looks like a wonderful resturant! Thanks for sharing...I would like to go over to Staten Island next time I come to NYC!

Linda Lou said...

What a great way to honor nanas and their wonderful food-wish we had a restaurant like that here in San Diego!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, dear, you have no idea how much I wish I could take you to lunch in that wonderful restaurant! Thanks for sharing...

XO,

Sheila

Junie Moon said...

I'd never heard the term "enoteca" before so appreciate your sharing that. Shows how often I visit wine cellars.

I love the restaurants Nonna theme and how they went about finding their Nonna chefs. What a great idea. And oh my, the food you shared makes me hungry and it's only 7:44 a.m. at my house. I think I'll make chicken piccata for dinner. See, you've helped me with my menu for tonight (but I'm hungry now after seeing your pictures).

black eyed susans kitchen said...

We find ourselves entertaining clients on Staten Island sometimes, and this sounds like the perfect opportunity to try Enoteca Maria. Everything looks so delicious. I'm like you husband...could happily make a meal of the artichoke and risotto...darn...now I'm hungry!
♥, Susan

black eyed susans kitchen said...

We were lucky enough to be treated to a game at the old stadium right before it closed. I actually have a picture of us with Mr.Mets (so embarassing). The new stadium looks awesome and your daughter is adorable!
♥, Susan

Vee said...

What a unique idea to have Nonnas busy in the kitchen! Hope that they are well compensated. At a certain age, most women would prefer to be served rather than to serve. Everything looks delicious!

Cori G. said...

Pat, I think you missed your calling in life. You really should write travel guides and be a food critic.
It's never too late to start!

xoxo Cori

Barb said...

This is my kind of place....Barb

frenchie4moi said...

Oh la la - my kind of place!

nanatrish said...

Talk about some pretty food! Wow!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the Nonna's food. They all seem to be happy to be able to do this, as they each feel that the way they prepare their food is the best :-)If you go to the Enoteca Maria's web site there is a short video you can watch about them.

I believe they are well compensated, Vee!

Cori, I promise in my next life I'll come back as a food critic
...I'd love that job!

GMG said...

Hi Pat! Another hectic week after the Easter break...
It seems rather interesting this Enoteca! Lovely pictures also!!

Blogtrotter has finished posting on Brasilia 2008. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

M.Kate said...

argh...food, what can I say Pat, they all look way too yummylicious!! We are having seafood tonight, not me cooking but eating out ;p I'll think of you when I bite into that sweet sour crab. Happy weekend Pat, hugs.........M

joe@italyville said...

what a great idea! I'm sure it doesn't matter what night you go... the food is probably always amazing and the best part is that no one is overworked! loved this post Pat. I'm going to have to venture the next time I'm in the City.

Poetikat said...

What a fantastic idea! The women must love it too. Your photos are great - I can taste everything as if it's on my own table.
I'll have a nice Chianti Classico Riserva with mine, if you please!

We're just watching Jamie Oliver's cooking adventure in and around Sicily, so this post has even more significance.

Kat

janie said...

I wish I lived nearby-this sounds wonderful!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Hmmm...if I was anywhere nearby, I know where I'd be going for dinner today. It all looks wonderful!

Michele said...

This is so cool! My parents still live on Staten Island so I'm going to have to go with them to try it!

steviewren said...

What a wonderful idea for a restaurant! Grandmother's cooking is always the best, no matter who the grandmother is.

Pat, you should combine your food expertise with that of tour guide. You would be the best! And what a good time you could show travelers to the greater NY area.

Joyce said...

Great post just one problem I can't be up there to eat all this with you. I will pass on the information to my family and friends in the city.
Joyce

CatHerder said...

mmmmm everything looks so good! i havent made risotto since the beginning of the winter...but it was divine! The restaurant looks beautiful..love the ambiance..love the subway tile

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Gosh that looked soooo good I think it would be tempting to fly up there to eat at Nonna's. I need your advice on naming my Lemon painting.

Mama said...

How lucky you are Pat, I hope this idea catches on in San Fran, in fact I am off to check out the web to see if it already has. the foods looks soooooo delicious. Happy Weekend, Kathy.

Fifi Flowers said...

That all looks FABULOUS from the decor to the food... YUM!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Now that is an awesome idea! Home cooking from real people, not trained chef's! What a great place I would love to go there one day. I would have ordered that stuffed artichoke like your hubby!

Rue said...

Thanks Pat.... I just drooled all over my computer LOL

hugs,
rue

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

WOW! I've never heard of this place. I think I know where I'm going when I visit my mom on the Isle of Staten. :-) Sending her the link to your post now...