Our Story

The History of Nonna Emilia

Nonna (Nonna is Italian for Grandmother) Emilia grew up in Florence, Italy where her mother and grandmother taught her to cook in the family café. In 1921, Nonna Emilia left Italy on a steamship to North America and six years later opened one of Portland’s first authentic Italian restaurants with her husband Ernie Ceccanti.

Nonna always insisted on using the finest ingredients when she prepared her specialties. She put eleven herbs and spices and a special blend of meats in her famous sauce. Her pastry-like dough and freshly ground cheeses made an extraordinary pizza. And she took great pride in always serving enormous portions of every entreé she prepared.

In the family tradition, Nonna Emilia passed her recipes from “the old country” down to Stephen Ceccanti. Stephen brought the lessons Nonna had shared with him to the restaurant that bears her name. We continue to prepare her Italian recipes with that same pride.


Rob McCue
Nonna Emilia Ristoranté

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