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[NYC] Enoteca Maria


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The WSJ has an article today about this small restaurant, where many of the herbs, figs, and vegetables come from the owner's back yard. The chef /cook may be a grandmother, as several share duties in the kitchen. People from foreign countries and Manhattan visit the restaurant.

 

 

Enoteca Maria's popularity lies in large part with its "nonnas": a slew of local Italian grandmothers who rotate shifts, cooking up specialties based on what's available that night. And what's available is based in part on what ingredients are growing in Mr. Scaravella's sloping, terraced garden behind his home up the hill.

 

On just a fifth of an acre, Mr. Scaravella's garden overlooks the harbor, Brooklyn and the Verrazano Bridge. Every patch of soil is occupied by a wide variety of foods including arugula, watermelon-sized squash, peaches, figs and San Marzano tomatoes. Last year Mr. Scaravella found room to plant 30 Sangiovese vines; he spent much of this afternoon crawling up and down the hill weeding his little vineyard.

 

The owner works full time for the Transit Authority. The garden, and the restaurant, sort of happened

 

Mr. Scaravella said he had no intention of opening a restaurant when he came upon a storefront for rent while he was out hunting one morning for a breakfast pastry. He placed an ad in a local Italian-language newspaper for a cook, and when women from as far away as the Bronx came showing off trays of their finest creations, he decided to try a rotation of chefs rather than just one. Rosa Turano drives in from New Jersey once a week to cook Northern Italian specialties like salt cod with milk and cheese and rabbit stewed with cinnamon. Because her husband is diabetic, Ms. Turano says it's only at the restaurant that she can "use butters and creams and make things I really love to make."

 

Most nights, Mr. Scaravella drinks and chats with his restaurant guests until the wee hours and fetes every birthday by blasting the Beatles song, "Birthday," on the stereo. He's thinking about opening another restaurant nearby featuring the cuisine of "nonnas from around the world."

 

But Mr. Scaravella said he has no plans to quit his day job, which offers health and retirement benefits. After long nights at the restaurant, Mr. Scaravella sometimes "comes in a little groggy," says Vincent Romanzi, Mr. Scaravella's manager at the MTA. "But one cup of coffee and he's back to normal."

 

 

Enoteca Maria

 

Enoteca Maria website

 

27 Hyatt Street, Staten Island, New York 10301 (718) 447-2777 | Open Wed-Sun 3pm till closing

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Depending on the evening? Or just always bad.. That is too bad.. My buddy lived in San Fran for some time.. His friend out there was from Thailand.. He would serve Thai Food on certain nights a week out of a restaurant space.. It was one of my inspirations for Bite Club..

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Depending on the evening? Or just always bad.. That is too bad.. My buddy lived in San Fran for some time.. His friend out there was from Thailand.. He would serve Thai Food on certain nights a week out of a restaurant space.. It was one of my inspirations for Bite Club..

I only went once and is was very ordinary. Other "Islanders" have gone and said mostly the same thing. I guess the best thing to say is it's hit and miss. It seems it's a place to go, just to say you've gone.

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i was there once as well and it was fine, just didn't seem to have the kind of food i had fantasized about for dinner. it wasn't a little hill town in the marche! but i imagine that it would depend some on the nonna at the helm.

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i was there once as well and it was fine, just didn't seem to have the kind of food i had fantasized about for dinner. it wasn't a little hill town in the marche! but i imagine that it would depend some on the nonna at the helm.

 

The structure selected by the owner almost guarantees that hit or miss result, as you note. A different granny, different stuff from the garden, and only the plates will look the same from week to week. Apulia granny and Veneto granny may not have a lot in common as they cook away.

 

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This might seem to be too inside baseball, but what does the restaurant do with standard kitchen mise en place? No self respecting granny is using someone else's red sauce or brodo or even seasoned bread crumbs.

 

Seems to be a nightmare in waiting once the positive publicity wears off.

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