CLOSTER, N.J. -- A taste of "home" can be found at Ma Mì Eatery in Closter.
Joseph Diovisalvo, a Fort Lee resident, said he and his wife, Amy Nguyen, developed their concept of a fast casual Vietnamese restaurant from their time out West. There are a lot of similar eateries/sandwich shops throughout Northern and Southern California, he said, and the two wanted to bring that to the East Coast.
Primarily, though, Ma Mì's influences come from Diovisalvo's mother and grandmother.
The "Ma'" in the restaurant's name pays tribute to where it all started: With Diovisalvo's grandmother Marie Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant, who opened her first restaurant in Queens in 1974.
Following suit, her daughter -- Diovisalvo's mom, KT Tran Diovisalvo -- began her journey through Manhattan and soon took her food to Northern N.J. She is now the owner of Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly, winner of Best of Bergen's Best Vietnamese Restaurant award.
"Mì," on the other hand, is a Vietnamese word meaning noodles or sandwich [banh mì], a staple on the Closter menu.
Among the popular dishes: The "original" and "spicy ma mi" sandwiches, pho soup, and bao buns.
"My mother taught me everything I know in the kitchen and I'm still using my grandmother's shrimp and pork dumpling recipe that she used 30 years ago," said Diovisalvo.
"Amy and I both grew up around traditional Vietnamese cooking and that has shaped what we are doing here."
Ma Mì Eatery is at 546 Durie Ave., 201-660-7826, www.mamieatery.com/ .