After reading the recent write-up in The Daily News about Enoteca Maria in St. George, Staten Island, I have been dying to try it out. The small and slight restaurant is just a few minutes away from my house and is so unassuming that I always ignored it as a possible dining spot.
The beauty of the place is that each night a different Italian grandmother (from Italy, really) prepares the meals you will eat.
The waiters are extremely friendly, and take great pains to ensure that you not only understand everything on the menu, but also enjoy your dining experience. The food is uniformly excellent: light yet robust. Each chef has her own specialties: if you have Adelena, I highly recommend the Gemelli con Ragu di Carciofi (Gemelli pasta served in a ragu of ground beef, artichokes, garlic, fresh rosemary and white wine), the Tripoline con Ragu di Seppie (long strands of tripoline pasta mixed with a sauce of cuttlefish, tomatoes, black olives, and capers), the Aragosta Ripiene (Lobster stuffed with diced shrimp, Italian seasonings, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs then coated with Italian olive oil and baked), and the Coniglio al Rosmarino (Pieces of rabbit that have browned then simmered in stock with fresh rosemary, capers, anchovies, olives and topped with a fresh cherry tomato relish). All homemade, all fresh, al delicious. They also had a chocolate cheesecake that was out of this world.
The place also doubles as a wine bar and features a rather healthy wine menu. Entrees are a bit pricy at about $20 to $25 dollars per, but they are completely worth it; the food is simply superb.
The biggest complaint is that the place is simply too small. Tiny, really. Practically everywhere in the restaurant, you will wind up sitting two inches away from someone else. There is also live music, but if you sit near the musician, forget about having a conversation with your dinner guest. You will have to shout and don’t forget: there’s someone two inches to the left of you and two inches to the right of you. I would also strongly advise sitting anywhere near the door as guests will congregate near you, their elbows uncomfortably close to your face.
The restaurant is located on 27 Hyatt Street. It is behind Staten Island’s Borough Hall, and is about five minutes walking distance from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. You can take the S44 bus three stops from the Terminal to get there; the bus will let you off right across the street.
Neigborhood: St. George
Staten Island, NY 10301
United States of America Because the place is so small, it is imperative you call ahead to make reservations: (718) 447-2777. Visit their site for more information.