Rosetta Sicoli wants to give you an experience of “food, friends and family,” or, as her brother Mauro describes it, “The Three Fs,” at Nonna's Cucina, located within the Marconi Club and Cultural Centre.
Rosetta is a well-known, award-winning Sault Ste. Marie restaurant personality, the longtime owner and operator of A Thymely Manner before becoming the Guglielmo Marconi Society Cultural Centre’s new general manager in April 2017, opening Nonna’s Cucina as its general manager in April 2018.
“This is a full-fledged place within the Marconi that’s not only a restaurant, but an actual eaterie. You can come in and have lunch, you can take it home, you can buy frozen, you can buy hot, you can have baskets made up, have a cappuccino, whatever it is you want. It’s an experience. It’s a social place, and we want to promote Italian culture and heritage through the food and the experience of this place,” Rosetta said, speaking to SooToday as we paid a visit and presented two complimentary coffee mugs.
“We’re here to hold Italian classes, we’re here to do cooking classes. The Italian heritage and culture always used to happen in ‘Grandma’s kitchen,’ or ‘Nonna’s,’” the purpose of Rosetta and Mauro’s eaterie being to recreate that feel for their patrons.
“It’s a (cultural) gem,” Rosetta said.
“Most of our decor comes from a lot of the ladies and men we know, Marconi Club members, my mom, my dad, my aunt’s kitchens.”
Photos depicting the people and history of the Sault’s Italian community hang on the walls, to add to that nostalgic feel.
“We also do children's birthday parties, catering inside for the Marconi and offsite, for places like City Hall, events, benefits, receptions, we can book for private parties, celebrations of life. We also deliver. We do it all,” said Mauro, Nonna’s Cucina manager.
A variety of merchandise is also available for purchase at Nonna’s Cucina, including coffee and coffee makers, coffee and tea cups, imported Italian oil, chocolate, pasta, canned tomatoes and more.
“The Italian culture and heritage is a very big part of the fabric of Sault Ste. Marie, and I want it to stay healthy, strong and vital. I want grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters to come in here and feel like they’re going back to where they were in Grandma’s kitchen. I want them to have that experience. I had it. I’ve enjoyed it, and I want to make sure we can perpetuate that,” Rosetta said.
She said she has heard patrons enthusiastically exclaim ‘I’ve gone to Italy,’ and ‘this is like my mother’s kitchen’ while enjoying the Nonna’s Cucina experience.
“I’ve been away from Sault Ste. Marie for over 30 years working for several airlines as a flight attendant, able to travel the world and really explore, training other flight attendants in other countries, then I owned my own flower shop for five years in Thornhill, Ontario and enjoyed that, then Rosetta called me and asked me if I was interested in helping her open Nonna’s Cucina,” Mauro said.
That was in September, 2017.
“We got it going. I was going to stay for six months, but decided to relocate here. The Sault is home,” Mauro said.
“Thomas Wolfe wrote a book called ‘You Can’t Go Home Again,’ but that wasn’t the case for me. It’s been a welcoming experience. Definitely the Sault has changed for the good. There are a lot more foodies. I’ve reunited with childhood friends, high school friends, it’s been great.”
“People shouldn’t be afraid of cooking,” Mauro added.
“It’s a great therapy for a person and it’s a wonderful thing you can do for family and friends.”
“It’s important to me to share what I know about food. Being surrounded by food all my life, Nonna’s Cucina is my way of sharing what I’ve learned, from my mother and grandmother’s recipes,” Mauro said.
More information about Nonna’s Cucina is available by calling 705 942 5556 or by checking out the eaterie’s website.