IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

83-year-old grandmother still works in a restaurant 6 days a week

The beloved Italian grandmother says she'll keep making pasta by hand as long as she can.
/ Source: TODAY

Not all pasta comes from a box. In fact, a lot of it comes from grandmas around the world — and their craft is now getting a resurgence thanks to social media.

When Nicola Marzovilla opened his first restaurant in New York City in 1988, he knew there was a very special ingredient he needed: his mother. Dora Marzovilla grew up making her own pasta in southern Italy during the post-World War II era when bread and pre-rolled pasta weren't affordable.

Orecchiette + Cavatelli + Focaccia Bread
Nonna Dora's famous orecchietteTyler Essary / TODAY

After moving to the U.S. in 1970 with her husband and four children, Dora maintained that tradition. Now that she's 83, the beloved grandmother still comes to her son's restaurant, I Trulli — working Monday through Saturday — to hand make everything, from orecchiette to ravioli.

Frequent patrons at the establishment know Dora as "Nonna Dora" (nonna is Italian for grandma) and always greet her upon arrival. Nonna Dora has her own personal station where she sits and creates pasta from a few pounds of dough into various types of pasta each morning.

"When I come over here, I pass my time. I enjoy to see people. I enjoy to make pasta," Dora told TODAY. "Everybody like that you make the pasta."

Marzovilla watches his clientele react to Nonna Dora and says he has even seen people shed tears.

"It brings up memories," he said, adding how important it is for younger generations, who may not even realize pasta can be made by hand, to see her work. "They're excited to actually see someone do this."

While Nonna Dora keeps nostalgia alive in the restaurant, she's also keeping with the times — on Instagram via her Nonna Dora account, where she posts pictures and videos of herself making pasta, and shows off different dishes available at I Trulli.

Of course, Nonna Dora isn't the only Italian grandma who has welcomed social media into the kitchen. The YouTube channel "Pasta Grannies" (which was started by cookbook author and Italian food-enthusiast Vicky Bennison) also features plenty of nonni sharing their secrets to perfecting homemade pasta.

One segment featured on the channel showcased New York's own Nonna Dora.

When she's not working on her social media game, Nonna Dora loves to be around her customers. She told TODAY that many people often ask which kind of pasta she's rolling so they can be sure to order it when they sit down.

Dominic Pandolfino, an I Trulli regular, always stops at Dora's station to give her a kiss before sitting down to eat.

"Everyday you'll see Dora making some kind of pasta for us to eat. It's fresh and just reminds me of when I was a kid and how much love my mother put into the food," Pandolfino said.

Marzovilla thinks his mother's role in the restaurant — and on Instagram — is a great thing for her.

"A mistake a lot of people make is they retire and they stop engaging," he told TODAY. "I think engagement is the fountain of youth. Getting up every morning with a purpose."

As far as when she will retire from I Trulli, Nonna Dora had a pretty simple answer, saying, "I don't know. When I can walk no more."