VIDEO: Grandmothers Make Restaurant Boom

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

( – Enoteca Maria, a restaurant in Staten Island, New York has a unique idea. Building on the idea that no meal is better than grandma, the restaurant has a rotating cast of grandmothers who handle cooking the meal. Maral Tseylikman has been employed as one of the grandmothers for seven years. As she noted they are not professional chefs but they are people eager to share their culture with others.

TODAY’s Donna Farizan visited the restaurant on March 8 to discuss with some of the grandmothers who help make sure this restaurant is a reality. The restaurant has a fixed, regular Italian menu which depends on the nonnas handling the cooking. There is also a variety of other cultural cuisines available.

On that day, Maria Gialanella was cooking lasagna, meatballs, rabbit, and fish for the restaurant. During her visit, Donna got to speak with all the grandmothers present including Tseylikman from Azerbaijan, Gialanella from Italy, and May “Dolly” Joseph from Sri Lanka. Each one of them has been working for more than seven years at the restaurant offering their traditional dishes.

Joseph revealed that this restaurant has led to them meeting people from all different countries and cultures who have heard about the restaurant and want to come to see what it is all about. Much like the cooks, the clientele also appears to be international. In the kitchen, there are women from Bangladesh, Algeria, Trinidad, Syria, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Belarus, Poland, France, and quite a few from Italy.

The restaurant was started by Joe Scaravella who wanted a way to honor his Italian heritage and his mother, grandmother, and sister all of whom had passed away.


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