Grandma’s Kitchen: The Restaurant Version

nonnasJody Scaravella grew up in a close-knit Brooklyn-Italian family. When several relatives died within a short period, he felt unmoored. So he moved to Staten Island. Soon, a storefront near the ferry spoke to him. “Restaurant,” it whispered; “Italian family restaurant.”

He had no experience in the restaurant business, so he sent out a call for Italian housewives to help him set the recipes. What he found was a gaggle of grandmas: nonnas in Italian.

With a core group of 10, from different regions in Italy, he opened Enoteca Maria, a restaurant named after his own mother. The nonnas each hold forth one night a week. They re-create the dishes they learned to cook from their own families. It’s an enterprise that is as much about tradition and family as it is about cooking. The nonnas link the past to the future.

Scaravella’s lead-from-the-heart enterprise was an immediate success. And why not: “If I had a choice between going to a five-star restaurant and going to Grandma’s house, I’m going to Grandma’s house,” he says.


Stranger than Fiction: Showers for new grandmothers

13800c5048c9600f56573b64f14f996dThis is America, baby! We have parties. We give gifts. We may worry about who is giving what, and who might be offended (diverting attention from the mother-to-be is the most-often heard complaint) but we press on, giving gag presents, outfitting baby’s home-away-from-home, kidding the soon-to-be-grandma about her abilities and her recall.

Classic games include: baby bottle bowling, baby food taste test, dirty diaper. (This last includes chocolates, microwaves, diapers, and guessing. Please, do not ask me for more details.)

One prize that I liked was a basket of spa items. Because someone is going to need it, baby!