So, I finally went to Enoteca Maria, the new buzz in Staten Island. (For nay sayers so far, read no further, we’ll never convince you.)
First, the concept is brilliant. Denise and Joe (proprietors, bar tenders, wine stewards, chatters) decided to open a traditional erotica (essentially a wine bar) with little Italian bites to keep you thirsty and satisfied. They didn’t want cooks, or worse yet, chefs. (This is their place, sharing the concept with an ego (or even just another) wasn’t in the cards.) They wanted your little old Italian grandmother; loves to cook, great ideas, used to cooking for a crowd. What they got was a bevy of wonderful Italian women who alternate night and make the menu often twice a day based on what’s in, what’s fresh, what’s within their individual repertoire. So far I’ve been there twice and both times the food was exceptional. My risotto was near perfect. Both Joe and Denise seem to know their wines but it seems that Joe is the master of the wine cabinet (which is extensive) while Denise is the master of the kitchen, as much as she can be with 6 Italian grandmothers down there.
So, clearly, this concept risks a certain spottiness as inevitably, one cook will outshine another, or one night there will be little fresh, in season or in the fridge to work from. But so far I haven’t suffered from this. I’ll let you know if I do. In the meantime, let me know what you think and who your cook was (or what night you went, as they rotate by night). A little hint, sit at the bar and chat up the owners. Free wine is likely to be your reward.
(This is not an advert. Everything above is true. Full disclosure, Joe and Denise are very nice and I want to see them succeed, AND I would like to see St. George, Staten Island succeed as well.)
P.S. The Enoteca is directly up the hill from the ferry, right behind the Borough Hall, just before the St. George Theater.
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