Happy Mother’s Day: Respect for Nonna and Madre

Happy Mother’s Day: Respect for Nonna and Madre

Julie Jurden

a mom and her mother cooking togetherYou know the stereotype. A grey-haired grandma busy in her Italian kitchen, small in stature but big in voice and vigor. She moves about in her apron and sensible shoes like a conductor directing a Puccini opera. From stove top to pot, and spoon to mouth, everything is orchestrated with rhythmic precision. This is her domain. This is her purpose. She is nonna.

The importance of family in Italy is inherent, and the reverence and respect paid to the matriarch of the family is profound. But she plays a much greater role than cooking and feeding her tribe.  She is the dominant force that rules and reigns over the generations below her. She dictates the tone and traditions of the family and plays a heavy hand in rearing the children. In return she is forever honored and adored.

Mother’s Day has become more globally recognized and not just a celebration here in the west. La Festa della Mamma was introduced in Italy in 1957, some 50 years after the U.S., by an Assisi priest who wanted to find a way to celebrate women and their ongoing contributions to the nurturing of family and community. While less pomp and circumstance are on display from the Italians, they do ensure they spend the day with their Madres and Nonna’s, or they at least call and send cards if they are unable to be present. After all, these are the women that shaped and cared for them their entire lives. Italians never forget this.

The increased role of mothers and grandmothers in our own lives here in the U.S. may seem too intrusive, but we still find the tradition of showering our maternal women with gratitude and gifts for Mother’s Day to be an important one. We wouldn’t be who we are without them.

One of our favorite ways to celebrate the women in our lives is to host an easy Sunday brunch where mom doesn’t have to cook and instead can just enjoy some pampering. A simple but filling frittata is a wonderful way to feed a larger group without dragging out a ton of pots and pans and dirtying up mom’s kitchen. This one-dish wonder is a classic that can be turned into a family tradition.

Below we’ve shared a tasty recipe using Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, and mounds of fabulous cheese. Served up in our new Roccia collection, these handmade Italian gifts make a wonderful present for mom or grandma.


To top off the celebration, whip up a tray of sparkling Bellini’s and let mom kick off her shoes and relax. We’ve included a recipe below, straight from Harry’s Bar. And don’t forget to tell her how much you appreciate everything she does for you and how much respect you have for the role she plays in keeping your family humming along.

From all of us at Modigliani, we wish a heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day to all the Madres and Nonnas out there, and we want you to know that you are valued, respected, and loved!

fritatta in a ceramic baking dish from Modigliani


Breakfast Frittata with Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Cheese

yield: 8 - 10 servings

total time: 50 - 55 minutes

prep time: 20 minutes

cook time: 30 - 35 minutes



  • 1 lb. uncooked pork Italian sausage (ground if you can find it)
  • 1 lb. sliced baby portobella mushrooms (pre-sliced mushrooms make it easy, but rinse them before you slice if you’re not using those)
  • 2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (pizza cheese that’s a blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, and Parmesan is also good in this)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions, plus more to sprinkle over the top (optional but good)
  • 10 eggs, beaten until whites and yolks are well combined
  • 1 tsp. Spike seasoning (optional but recommended, can also use any other spice blend you like with eggs)
  • ½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste



  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Spray a large casserole dish (about 9″ x 13″) with non-stick spray.
  • Place sausage in a nonstick frying pan and cook about 5 minutes or until the sausage is just cooked through. Drain and place in a layer in the baking dish.
  • Wash mushrooms if needed, spin or pat dry, and slice (or use pre-sliced mushrooms). Heat another 2 tsp oil in the same frying pan and cook mushrooms until all liquid is released and evaporated and they’re starting to brown slightly. Layer mushrooms over the sausage in the casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup grated cheese and 1/4 cup sliced green onions over the sausage and mushrooms.
  • Break eggs into a medium sized bowl or large glass measuring cup, then beat with a fork until yolks and whites are well combined. Add salt and pepper and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and stir together.
  • Then pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the casserole dish. Use a fork to gently stir so all ingredients are coated with egg and well-combined.
  • Sprinkle the other cup of grated cheese over the top.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the center is completely set and the top of the breakfast casserole is starting to lightly brown.
  • Serve hot, garnished with more green onions if desired. This is also good served with sour cream. Egg casseroles like this can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and reheated quickly in the microwave. Be careful not to microwave too long.











Harry’s Bar Bellini

The Bellini is one of Italy’s most famous cocktails and it all began in Venice at a place called Harry’s Bar. There are variations of this recipe all over the internet, but essentially, it’s a white peach puree with Prosecco poured over the top. Some add sugar and lemon, some add a raspberry puree for more color. We like the original version below.

You could use yellow peaches, but we highly recommend using only white peaches. When you can get them in season, create the puree by running the pitted peaches through a food mill and then through a fine sieve for just the right consistency. Chill the puree in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

  • ½ cup chilled white peach puree
  • 1 ½ cup chilled Prosecco

You can either divide the puree up into the four glasses and pour the Prosecco over the top of each one, or you can combine it all in a pitcher, stir, and then serve.