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Enoteca Maria


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#1 Daniel

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 01:32 PM

Enoteca Maria
http://www.enotecamaria.com/wp/

Enoteca Maria
27 Hyatt Street, Staten Island, New York 10301
(718) 447-2777



Yesterday was mother's day and we were looking to meet my family somewhere between both our houses.. Staten Island seemed to be a good place to pick..And, since Rich and Peggy's place was fully booked out months ago, we had to find a different place to eat..

After a brief search on the inter webs, I remembered this place from the radio.. The concept behind this place is, they have a regular menu and then they have a series of Italian grandmothers come in and cook specials of the day.. Despite being a wonderful gimmick to get some press, it is just an all around wonderful idea..

The restaurant is small but, well thought out.. It reflected the quirkiness of the owner.. Marble subway tiles, interesting cieling fans and lighting.. It's very nicely done..

The menu is interesting.. Not your normal sort of of restaurant.. There are a ton of small appetizers and plates for the table.. We ordered a bunch and did not make a dent in the menu.. But they had a stuffed lambs head dish, they had pigs feet with beans, chicken feet in tomato sauce, a lamb testicle salad, grilled lambs hearts.. Not your average run of the mill menu...

We started with a stuffed pizza with broccoli rabe,sausage, and fontina cheese.. The broccoli rabe was cooked and chopped and served with a fennel sausage and a perfect amount of melted fontina.. This was terrific..

We moved on to stuffed clams. The clams were cherry stones, had a really hearty breading, the clam itself was cooked perfectly and super briny..

Stuffed Artichoke was another very well done dish.. Large artichokes, lots of stuffing, whats not to love..

Bruschetta toast.. They used cherry tomatoes.. Long strips of crunchy bread.. I tasted dried oregano that I could have done with out..

My mother ordered the homemade tagilatelle.. This was made by one of the 6 grandmothers that they have in the rotation.. She hailed from Naples... I believe it had mushrooms, cooked ham, and pancetta in a red sauce that had a touch of cinnamon in it. The homemade pasta was cooked perfectly.. She loved this dish..

Miss K ordered Rabbit cooked in foil.. The even included the head in this dish.. She devoured the entire thing.. Served with tomatos and red wine.

I ordered the veal tails with peas.. Veal tails cooked to they were falling off the bone.. Served over peas, this was a lovely dish. another white wine dish..

My father ordered branzino cooked in foil.. I felt it to be a little bland but, cooked well..

For dessert, we ordered the nutella ricotta cheese cake.. The cake was delicious and very interesting.. We couldnt figure out exactly how it was made.. definitely lots of egg whites and some sort of souffle top.. All that aside, it was fantastic..

The owner is extremely nice and casual.. When we first came in, he came over, sat at our table, put his arm around me and we talked about wine, Italy, his restaurant.. He seems super nice, very passionate about food and wine..

We had a bottle of single varietal Sicilian White and then on to a pitcher of red wine wth some pears in it..

Very straight forward honest cooking going on here.. Everything is priced well, the owners and staff are nice.. I will certainly be coming back..
Ason, I keep planets in orbit.

#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 01:46 PM

Testicles cooked by a mother seem particularly appropriate to the holiday.
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#3 Daniel

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Posted 09 May 2011 - 01:57 PM

Right.. It's funny too as I was like, i would love to have the lambs head but, i just had that last week.. They guy next to me ordered it and it looked pretty damn delicious.. It was stuffed with a breading..
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#4 Rail Paul

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

The Wall Street Journal's Lettie Teague visits the restaurant. Maybe it's just me, but this place gets an enormous amount of publicity. Ms Teague noted that visitors from Manhattan often take the ferry and walk the few blocks, while visitors from Staten Island and the mainland often drive and have to feed the meters.


"I'm always looking for more nonnas," explained Mr. Scaravella when I drove over from New Jersey for dinner last week. Nonna Giovanna was in the kitchen that night. Was she from Sardinia? I thought I'd seen that fact on the Enoteca website. "I wish I had a grandmother from Sardinia," replied Mr. Scaravella. In fact, Nonna Giovanna hailed from Tuscany, by way of New Jersey.

Each evening's nonna is noted on the Enoteca Maria website along with her special dishes (there are usually three; the rest of the menu is unchanging).

(snip)

Mr. Scaravella's taste in wine runs from the slightly obscure to the little known wines (Lombardian Bonarda, Pecornia from Abruzzo) though not many, it should be noted, are very high-priced. Most bottles are in the $30 to $40 range and some selections cost as little as $8 a glass—another reason perhaps that Manhattanites make that 25-minute boat ride?

Mr. Scaravella offered me a taste of a wine he particularly liked, the Argiolas Vermentino. It's a lively white wine from Sardinia that's well known to Italian oenophiles as a reliable and well-priced selection ($24 a bottle at Enoteca Maria), but I chose the 2010 Tre Monti Vigna Rocca Albana from Emilia-Romagna instead at $33 a bottle. Mr. Scaravella seemed to approve. In fact, he sent over a bit of chickpea salad (very good) and some lamb testicles (a house specialty) that our waitress Kate whispered conspiratorially we could "feel free to spit out" and gave us extra napkins for the task though as it turned out the testicles went pretty well with the Emilia-Romagna white.

Both testicles and chickpea salad are among the regular menu items prepared by the "regular" kitchen staff downstairs; the nonna works in her own star's kitchen upstairs, preparing her special dishes. We had two of her specials, of course, the Filetto di Pesce—filet of bass breaded and topped with cherry tomatoes, capers and onions—and her Rigatoni Imbottiti al Giovanna, a plate of rigatoni stuffed with spinach, veal, carrots and celery in a basil marinara. It was terrific and surprisingly light. "I'm glad you ordered the rigatoni—she's been wanting to serve the rigatoni all night," said Tricia, the restaurant's other waitress when she stopped by our table. (Nonna Giovanna later stopped by our table, looking like a very glamorous grandmother.)




WSJ

(I do know that part of Manhattan is on the US mainland, but I suspect Enoteca Maria doesn't see many guests from that neighborhood.)

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#5 Sneakeater

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:01 PM

Whenever I read about this place, I always have this image in my head of the grandmothers chained in the basement, being unlocked and led up to the kitchen each day, with hoods over their heads, by brawny armed goons, to be chained to the stoves during service, and brought back down to the basement, hooded, and locked up in chains again by the goons each night.

"I'm always looking for more grandmothers," says the owner. Gives me the creeps.
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#6 Wilfrid

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:05 PM

I will travel for testicles. I didn't notice this thread initially.

#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:06 PM

I will travel for testicles.


This HAS to be your new signature.
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#8 Wilfrid

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:47 PM

Maybe something about curating testicles?