On April 7th, in your bookstore, you will find Nonna’s House by Jody Scaravella. There are many reasons you want to look at and, I suspect, put this book foremost in the Italian section of your kitchen library. If you don’t have an Italian section, this book is the reason to start one.
Those reasons include the recipes from ten grandmothers, the exceptional photos, and the charming and clever backstory.
Let’s start with that story. In 2007, Jody Scaravella found a storefront on Staten Island. Jody had grown up in one of the many Italian neighborhoods of Brooklyn and loved the food of his youth. The storefront was going to be a restaurant. Jody is not a professional chef and he did not want to hire one. He remembered that childhood food, the food of his grandmother. So, he advertised for Italian grandmothers to come to his Enoteca Maria and cook. Whatever they wanted, in their personal family style.
The ten grandmothers that rotate nightly in Jody’s Enoteca Maria are all lovingly described in the chapters of this book. These grandmothers talk about their grandmothers and cooking with them. Some of these women were born here, some migrated. But they carry with them now generations of recipes, tuned and tweaked and personalized to perfection.
Let’s tour the book’s chapters and some of the very special recipes that appear.
Stuffed Hot Green Peppers
Sun-Dried Tomatoes Filled with Anchovies and Capers
- Minestre e Antipasti
Abruzzo-Style Farro Soup with Pancetta and Sage
Pasta and Beans with Mussels
Smoked Herring Salad with Oranges
Eggplant with Chocolate
Stuffed Peppers with Meat, Pine Nuts and Raisin
Fennel with Gorgonzola
- Cereali, Riso e Gnocchi
Polenta with Dried Fish and Cauliflower
Risotto with Strawberries
Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce
Simple Nut Sauces for Pasta
Penne with Radicchio, Walnuts and Gorgonzola
Fresh Fettuccine with Tuna, Eggplant and Mint
Scialatielli with Clams, Mussels, and Crab
Tagliatelle with Pumpkin and Chestnuts
- Paste Imbottite e Pizza [Layered and Baked Pasta]
Onion and Tuna Pizza
Ravioli with Rabbit Filling
Prizewinning Meat and Three-Cheese Lasagna with Eggplant, Asparagus, and Peas
Sicilian-Style Tuna Fillets with Onions and Vinegar
Shrimp-Stuffed Swordfish Rolls
Quail with Fried Pancetta and Olives
Meatballs with Hard-Boiled Eggs Inside
Roasted Pork Loin with Oranges
Fig Cookies with Chocolate-Fig Filling
Sicilian Milk Pudding
Fried Ricotta Turnovers
Baked Peaches Stuffed with Mascarpone
There are many, many Sunday family suppers for you in Nonna’s House. Suzen and I will definitely be making that Roasted Pork Loin with Oranges. The Shrimp-Stuffed Swordfish:Rolls would be an elevated centerpiece for your next dinner party. Onion and Tuna Pizza? No, it’s not an American affectation. It’s a real Italian recipe originally offered only at Christmas but delicious year round. Eggplant with Chocolate? I guess Italians can never stop offering homage to Christopher Columbus.
Nonna’s House is the kind of cookbook that we all long for and, when we find it, cherish. Recipe by recipe you will find Nonna’s House to be exceptional. If you happen to have had an Italian grandmother, your heart will warm. If you didn’t have one, you’ll wish you had — but thankfully have this lovely book that can warm both heart and kitchen.
Ah, the photos. Great, great photos. Here is shot of the Quail with Fried Pancetta and Olives. Want the recipe? Well, the book is published on Tuesday, but I'll give you a preview on Monday. Look for the recipe in Monday's post. Then, go find some quai! And your copy of Nonna's House.