About Me


Hello my friends

Thank you for gracing me with your presence!

My name is Maria. I’m a vibrant Italian-American with a zest for life and a glutton for all things food. By day, I’m a Supervising Board Certified Behavior Analyst, working with kids and adults who have autism. By night, I am a food creator, stylist and photographer for my own blog. Even more, I am a Food Writer for Connect Savannah, an alternative weekly newspaper.

My obsession for cooking and indulging in delectable eats led me to the creation of this blog.

My goal? To share healthy, sometimes naughty, and always creative eats with my readers, teaching them that they too can whip up delicious and fascinating food with everyday ingredients {no culinary degree needed}.

To be honest, I am just an ordinary girl with extraordinary taste, which is why I am a Common Connoisseur.

So, here’s a little bit about me. I was a special education teacher for 6 years, teaching children of all abilities, but primarily those with autism. I have a Masters of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis. After taking the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s exam, I became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). So in 2016, I left the classroom to serve kiddos with autism as a BCBA. I am currently a Clinical Coordinator as well as a Supervising Analyst. I truly love what I do.

Although my strong work ethic has lead me to this point, my forever passion has always been and will always be FOOD. I am on a persistent trek to gratify my taste buds.

I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York by my mom and large supportive Italian family. My story and love for food dates back to the 1940s. After many sea-sick weeks on a boat trip from Sicily, Italy to New York City, my Grandma, Theresa, arrived at Ellis Island in the 40s. She was 25 years old and knew that she wanted the American dream for her family. She began calling over her husband, parents, sisters and brother. One by one my family arrived to America. Shortly after, the whole family trekked to Syracuse, New York,  where they all lived in a three story home. My grandparents owned a small Italian grocery store, named G and T Quality Market, next door. My mom remembers Grandpa making homemade sausages for the store and Grandma “borrowing” a few for her fresh tomato sauce.

See, Grandma’s whole life was dedicated to feeding her family. It was then that she started the tradition of pasta and sauce every Sunday with the whole family. There is a rumor that she was in labor with my uncle, her son, on a Sunday and would not go to the hospital until the sauce was finished and everyone was fed. I grew up knowing that each Sunday was dedicated to this family meal. Every single family member, immediate and extended, was invited. Even our significant others and best friends came to Sunday dinner. There were times that we would have 30 people at Sunday Sauce! Grandma woke up at 5:00 am and cooked her sauce all day. Upon arrival, my cousins and I would tear off a piece of Italian bread and immerse it into the deep pot of sauce. She would slap our hands and tell us to put it in a separate bowl (we never did).  When it was time to eat, Grandma would send one of her grandchildren to the garden to pick fresh basil for the sauce. We would pass around meatballs, grated pecorino romano, salad, eggplant parmesan and sauteed greens, as we filled our plates with the best Italian food in the world!

The memories seem endless, but one thing is clear, my passion and appreciation for food was instilled in me at birth. Grandma and I spent many days cooking together, where I would imitate her kitchen prowess. As she aged, she continued to gather the family for Sunday dinners, the most important part of the week. She passed away in March 2015 at 93 years old and my heart broke. My birthday was 2 days before she passed away. She asked my mom to help her buy the cookbook Mad Delicious for my birthday. I received it in the mail on the day she passed. In the inscription I simply wrote:

” …This book is from my amazing Grandma. She loved to cook and so do I.”

Cooking and eating brings me so much joy. My foodspiration stems from family recipes, restaurant recreations, cooking shows and cuisine cravings. I often aspire to cook and defeat challenging eats like risky risotto, submerging soufflés or Gorden Ramsey’s baffling beef wellington. On other days, I fancy cooking healthy yet satisfying meals.

Please join me on my journey in my kitchen and to diverse restaurants, as I eat and cook my way through flavory fare.

I am just an ordinary girl with extraordinary taste, which is why I am a Common Connoisseur.

Thanks a Latte for Stopping by

3 thoughts

  1. Hi Maria,

    Your first post just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:

    I encourage you to claim your blog, which allows you to add a picture and change some settings. The blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Here’s how to claim:

    – Make sure you’re logged into Urbanspoon

    – Go to your blog page on our site: https://www.urbanspoon.com/blogger-reviews/23/14533/Pittsburgh/a-common-connoisseur.html

    – Click “Claim your blog” in the left sidebar

    After you submit it, we may contact you to verify your claim. Check your spam email folder if your claim hasn’t gone through in a day or two. You’ll also find some interesting badges and widgets on your Urbanspoon blog page – look in the right sidebar.

    If you have any questions, please contact me via email.




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