Enoteca Maria takes great home cooking seriously. At this intimate, hospitable restaurant on Staten Island, all the cooking is done by ten nonnas (grandmothers), drawing on their own family recipes, handed down for generations, which reflect their regional traditions. 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 Cristina shares her beautiful Risotto with Strawberries, Black Pepper, and Parmesan; Nonna Margherita offers delectable Stuffed Peppers with Pine Nuts and Raisins; and Nonna Teresa shows off her prize-winning Meat and Cheese Lasagna. Nonna Elvira whips up her peerless Linguine with Cuttlefish and Ink; Adelina creates a savory Tagliatelle with Pumpkin, Sausage, and Chestnuts; and Rosaria makes handmade Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Cherry Tomatoes and Porcini Mushrooms. Nonna Carmelina shares her classic Potato Pie with Ham, Salami, and Mozzarella; Rosa confides her nonna s secret recipe for Rabbit with Sage; and Nina sautes Chicken alla Capricciosa, with prosciutto and mushrooms. Nonna Francesca launches the book with advice on the time-honored art of preserving everything from olives to soppressata.
With its utterly delicious tastes of grandmother s kitchen, "Nonna s House "is a legacy of flavors passed down through generations, now captured here forever. Restaurant founder Jody Scaravella says it best: If I have a choice between a three-star Michelin chef s restaurant and Grandma s, I m going to Grandma s. I m going to the source. "
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-16
- Reviewer: Staff
There is no better gimmick than legitimacy, and Staten Island restaurateur Scaravella has found a way to multiply authentic Italian cuisine by a factor of 10. Behind the scenes of his eight-year-old eatery, Enoteca Maria, there are no award-winning celebrity chefs; instead, there is a rotation of 10 real-life Italian grandmothers (nonnas) serving up their ages-old family recipes. This rustic collection showcases over 100 of those dishes and also provides each chef’s life story, told in her own words. The autobiographies are notably similar: tales of large, multi- generation families; hungry husbands; immigration to America; and ever-present food streaming forth from the kitchen. The 10 primary chapters are arranged in course order from antipasti through cereali (polenta, risotto, and the like) to dessert. Pastas are broken out into two different chapters, with one dedicated to stuffed pasta and pizza and showcasing not only three types of lasagna but also ravioli with rabbit filling and spinach manicotti. The grannies do not always play it safe. For instance, cocoa plays a starring, and startling, role in two obscure dishes: eggplant with chocolate, and chocolate blood pudding. In the latter, four cups of pig’s blood are sweetened with semisweet chocolate, honey, and wine. For tamer palates, the final chapter, on holiday treats, features an Easter wheat pie with nothing more daring than orange peel and ricotta. Color photos. (Apr.)
Cooking: Mediterranean Magic
Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil is a two-in-one triumph. I doubt there’s anyone in the cookbook-buying community who doesn’t know that olive oil is a healthy, delicious golden elixir and that extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is even better in every way. But not too many of us know what EVOO really is, what determines quality, why it matters and how to select the best. Jenkins, a renowned olive oil authority and avid advocate of the Mediterranean diet, remedies that with the savvy seminar she offers here. The 100-plus recipes that follow are, unsurprisingly, all marvelous, EVOO-anointed and mostly Mediterranean. No course is left behind, from starters and small dishes, like tapenades and real Falafel with garlicky tahini, to soups, salads, seafood, serious meat and poultry mains, sauces, pastas, pizzas, rice and desserts—even Mousse au Chocolate and Brownies.
What can the bass player for the indie rock band Grizzly Bear and a photographer teach you about making fabulous dinners? A lot. Chris Taylor is the musician, and a dedicated home cook. Ithai Schori is a photographer who’s worked as a pro in some high-end restaurants. When they met, the two discovered a shared passion for “making good food happen” and for feeding their friends in an unhurried, laid-back style. They experimented, riffed on each other’s ideas and came up with Twenty Dinners, featuring their favorite techniques and inspiring ideas, plus luscious photographs, for simple evening meals or more elaborate events. Consider their menus, but mix and match these sensational, seasonally arranged dishes in any way you want. I fell for the Seared Kale Salad with toasted pine nuts from Dinner 1, and served it before the slow-cooked Roasted Lamb Shoulder from Dinner 8, with Spiced Carrots and Harissa Yogurt from Dinner 14, followed by a rich, intense Lemon Verbena Tart from Dinner 3. A total wow!
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Sometimes I wonder if the world really needs another Italian cookbook. Then, a book like Nonna’s House arrives, and I know that the answer is a resounding sì! Missing his grandmother, mother and sister and the glorious food they made, Jody Scaravella had the brilliant idea to open a unique restaurant where all the cooking was done by real Italian grandmothers—the nonnas who learned to cook from their nonnas and who hold their families together with authentic regional food made from legacy recipes. It all happens at Enoteca Maria on Staten Island. If you can’t hop on the ferry to get there, you can open this book and make the nonnas’ cucina casalinga (home cooking) part of your own culinary legacy. Spiced with warm reminiscences and almost-edible photos, the book includes lovingly detailed recipes from all over Italy—Farro Soup from the Abruzzi, mint-infused Stuffed Eggplant from Sicily, Calabrian Baked Pasta Casserole, Risotto with Radicchio from the Veneto, Neapolitan Potato Pie. Mangia bene—this is tradition at its tastiest.