Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: Nonna's House by Jody Scaravella and Elisa Petrini

Title: Nonna's House: Cooking and Reminiscing with the Italian Grandmothers of Enoteca Maria
Author: Jody Scaravella and Elisa Petrini
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 7th 2015
Source: Atria Books

Book Description via Goodreads:

This beautiful collection of food and nostalgia features great traditions from the heart of Italy, with delicious recipes and colorful stories from the internationally celebrated grandmothers of Enoteca Maria; a one-of-a-kind Italian restaurant where a rotating cast of nonnas are the star chefs.

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 saut's 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.



I was led to this book thanks to a mutual love that my girlfriend and I have for Italian cooking. I'm of mostly Polish heritage while she is German, so we have no Italian grandmothers to pump us full of homemade pastas and decedent desserts. So, I got a book that specialized in just that void that we have, and I was not disappointed. This is a gorgeous and heartfelt book.

It's clear that this book, and the restaurant that influenced it, is a labor of love. The beginning starts with a story of how it all began, and each recipe/section has more anecdotes and stories about the families that make it feel personal, like someone's grandmother is actually handing you a memory that's been cherished for generations. It's clear that they love each other and love food from the stories told and the recipes that are included. There are also plenty of family pictures, making it a bit like a diary or foodie scrapbook. I like it.

The pictures of the food are awesome too, they definitely make me want to try all of the things (and I will eventually, believe you me). The recipes in this book are sorted by course, with an added section for special holiday recipes. I really liked the variety of the recipes that are included, spanning from cold apps to desserts and everything in between. Vegetarian friends- there's also plenty of options for you in here, or recipes that can be adapted. I appreciated that there were also tips on how to change the recipes based on personal tastes and ingredient availability, as well as how some recipes may differ a bit depending on what part of Italy the person is from.

I want to make probably 95% of the recipes in this collection, but the ones that have me the most intrigued include: Chocolate Blood Pudding, Linguine with Cuttlefish and Its Ink, and My Prize Winning Meat and Three Cheese Lasagna with Eggplant, Asparagus, and Peas.

I recommend this book to any home cook who loves and appreciates good food steeped in tradition, or even just Italian food. I was provided a copy from Atria Books in exchange for my honest review.


  1. omg the lasagna sounds AMAZING! I'm German/Mexican so no Italian in me either but totally lucked out and my grandmom's best friend is Italian and lived just 2 blocks away so I got the big Italian family that way and oh man. The food!!

    1. That's fantastic. I am so jealous! Italian is the best.

  2. Who can ever resist Italian cooking?? I'm already craving some pasta as I read this review. And chocolate blood pudding? I want!

    1. Right? I'm really interested to see how those flavors merge. I've cooked with blood before, but never in a dessert.

  3. Oh my god we need this in our kitchen! I never need much convincing to get or eat Italian, as I have "helped" my dad make spaghetti since I was a little human. And by helped I mean I stood on a chair next to the stove and watched, stirred, and tested the pasta to see if it was cooked through. It started my love of Italian food, which you have expanded with your wonderful culinary mind.