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Valentine's Day, Two Hearts and One Restaurant: Here Are 14 Winning Couples of Italian Cuisine

Marco Colognese
copertina coppie san valentino bros

14 portraits of happily harmonized couples in the world of delicious hospitality, from fine dining to pizzerias: a special feature to read to discover old and new culinary alchemies.

What does it mean to live under the same roof and work together? It must not be an easy thing, especially for those who find themselves doing it in a restaurant, in close contact with a husband, wife, partner, or companion. It's a tough environment, undoubtedly rather stressful, with rhythms during service that leave no time to breathe. Yet, before writing these lines, researching, I discovered that couples in this world of tables and stoves are numerous, some working together in the kitchen, some outside, and some inside, so choosing which ones to mention was not easy at all. I selected from venues all over Italy, from more and less known figures, all united by the great experience they have provided me with as their 'guest.'

aimo moroni e nadia

It is impossible not to mention couples who have made history in our country's catering industry, four above all: the Tuscans Nadia Giuntoli and Aimo Moroni, who came from Tuscany to Milan in 1962 to open their restaurant; Annie Feolde and Giorgio Pinchiorri, at the helm of Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence for over fifty years. Then, Livia and Alfonso Iaccarino of Don Alfonso in Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi and finally Nadia and Antonio Santini with their Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio.

Livia e Alfonso Iaccarino S Scata
Photo by Stefano Scatà

It is also worth mentioning young talents, deeply committed and already established, like couples deeply connected by the theme of sustainability such as Chiara Pavan and Francesco Brutto at Venissa on the island of Mazzorbo, and Ludovica Rubbini with Riccardo Gaspari at Sanbrite in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Or the 'Parisian' (hoping to see them in Italy soon) Alessandra Del Favero and Oliver Piras; or even Yuki Mitsuishi, who followed her husband Giuseppe Molaro from Contaminazioni in Somma Vesuviana all the way from Japan. It would take a book to tell the countless stories of so many people. Meanwhile, evoking February 14th, Valentine's Day, the lovers' day, here are 14 very short stories of happily harmonized couples in the world of delicious hospitality.

La Madonnina del Pescatore - Senigallia (AN)

moreno cedroni mariella organi

Mariella Organi, one of the most charismatic and representative figures of our country's dining room, maître of La Madonnina del Pescatore, met her husband Moreno Cedroni, a chef with remarkable talent, in 1991. Together they created a cult place for every enthusiast. Here in Senigallia, high-class hospitality and fine-dining cuisine live in perfect harmony in what is an essential stop for those who love the sea from the perspective of an enlightened chef and innate talent.

Artifex, Feuerstein Nature Family Resort - Brennero (BZ)

artifex tina mercelli e kim

On the border with Austria in Brennero, in Val Di Fleres, there is a family resort that is perfect for families with children. Overseeing the kitchen of Feurstein, particularly its small, gourmet corner Artifex Gourmet, where gastronomic South Tyrol meets the world, is the very talented Tina Marcelli, who coordinates a group of people, mostly women: you will hear about them because they are really skilled, they love their job madly, and this is clearly perceived in their dishes.

Radici - San Fermo della Battaglia (CO)

14 Radici

Mirko Gatti and Sara Pau are a couple everyone should encounter and have the chance to taste their original approach to food and wine pairing. In their restaurant in San Fermo della Battaglia, not far from Como, they have created a perfect representation of contemporary cuisine that moves in search of everything that has not yet been told about alien species, whether it be game, vegetables, or both freshwater and saltwater fish. And what is found in their menus, intelligently articulated according to the flow of the seasons, is not indifferent.

Elena - Domodossola (VB)

Cristian Elena e Roberta Bariletta Elena

Elena Restaurant in Domodossola, a town in Piedmont worth a visit, is a small treasure trove of goodness where chef Cristian Elena and his wife Roberta Bariletta, in the dining room and in the wine cellar, practice a concept of hospitality that plays on warmth and colors. If the environment is intimate and cozy, the cuisine is one where many small dishes, each better than the other, create a refined and delicious journey of guaranteed enjoyment. All this with a beautiful smile from beginning to end.

O Me o il Mare - Gragnano (NA)

nicoletta gargiulo e luigi tramontano

Nicoletta Gargiulo and Luigi Tramontano met at Don Alfonso in 2004 - she was the assistant sommelier and he a chef de partie. Four years later they got married and after some time in different establishments, they found themselves working together, first at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento and then at the magnificent Hotel Le Agavi in Positano. After seven years of success spent on the coast, they are now ready to debut with their O Me o il Mare Restaurant in Gragnano, which will open its doors next March and promises an elegant open kitchen and a remarkable wine list for thirty covers.

Bros’ - Lecce

Isabella Poti e Floriano Pellegrino 2024 02 13 09 30 20

A very harmonized and famous couple, Isabella Potì and Floriano Pellegrino are a clear example of how chefs can become great and discussed figures. Without detracting from their cuisine, often provocative but delicious, in which the noble traditions of Puglia are translated and re-proposed with avant-garde techniques and stimulating innovative ideas. So, in addition to Lecce, it also happens in their trattoria in Scorrano, where tradition remains such without frills and in a beautiful environment.

Pascucci al Porticciolo - Fiumicino (RM)

Gianfranco Pascucci ph Lido Vannucchi 2 2024 02 13 09 24 30
Photo by Lido Vannucchi

One of the largest seafood restaurants in Italy, Pascucci al Porticciolo, features Gianfranco Pascucci in the kitchen and Vanessa Melis in the dining room. Husband and wife, very harmonized, have turned their restaurant into an essential stop for lovers of high fish gastronomy, transforming it from an efficient numbers machine into an exclusive and elegant place, where you can appreciate Gianfranco's refined technique and Vanessa's idea of hospitality. Here there is a lot of research, never forgetting the centrality of taste, with a high-level welcoming.

Antica Trattoria di Sacerno – Sacerno (BO)

giada berri e dario picchiotti

Located just outside Bologna, Antica Trattoria di Sacerno is a cozy establishment, carved out from the renovation of an ancient farmhouse, where seafood and sparkling wines are the main elements of a delightful story. The story revolves around Giada Berri and the dynamic Dario Picchiotti, a profound connoisseur of raw materials who excels both in selecting remarkable fresh ingredients and in creatively transforming them. Giada, on her part, is an expert wine connoisseur, particularly of Champagnes, of which the selection here at Sacerno is particularly rich.

Quintogusto - Savona

14 Quintogusto

What is witnessed in Savona is a true rebirth on the fine dining front. An excellent example of recently opened establishments is Quintogusto in Piazza Pertini. Mirco Lacota is a chef who skillfully handles both sea and land ingredients, crafting original and highly flavorful dishes. His wife Alina, in the dining room, warmly welcomes guests and takes care of proposing pairings from an already well-structured wine list.

Locanda Mammì - Agnone (IS)

TomasTorsiello e StefaniadiPasquo Mammi

In the fascinating city of bells, secluded, intimate, and welcoming, Locanda Mammì represents the culmination of a beautiful love story. That of Stefania di Pasquo, an excellent cook, and Tomas Torsiello, an equally skilled front-of-house professional, who have managed to create a place of particularly warm taste in an area not simple in terms of 'fine dining' gastronomic offerings. Here, you can enjoy a welcoming atmosphere and a cuisine that seduces with its territorial traits enhanced by the particularly skillful hand of the chef.

ME Restaurant - Pizzo Calabro (VV)

14 ME Restaurant

An old stone farmhouse and a beautiful summer porch, along the splendid coast of Vibonese, with the sea of Calabria just a few steps away. The establishment of Eleonora Marcello and Giuseppe Romano is located not far from Pizzo, where the chef, originally from Campania, arrived for love after having cooked around the world. Husband and wife find themselves alongside the stoves to create a culinary proposal that happily enhances the raw materials and flavors of this extraordinary region of Italy, alongside excellent dishes and a fine wine selection.

Pizzeria Settimo Cielo - Pescantina (VR)

petra antolini e lorenzo giacopuzzi

Petra Antolini, a determined pizzaiola, has made her pizzeria in Pescantina a renowned place. Working side by side with her partner and right-hand man Lorenzo Giacopuzzi, in addition to their son Kevin, they offer a wide range of excellent pizzas with different doughs and toppings that highlight local products at their best. Not only that, since well-prepared dishes are also served here; finally, anyone with gluten allergies can rest assured, as there is a dedicated and certified separate line.

Mater - Moggiona (AR)

filippo baroni e marta bidi macco lone
Photo by Macco Leone

Mater is a place you can't help but fall in love with. Because first of all, it's warm, cozy, and intimate. And then because here, amid a wonderful territory with the Casentinesi Forests and the Monastery of Camaldoli within walking distance, you breathe a different air. Marta Bidi and Filippo Baroni, wife and husband, welcome their guests, the former with a sweet savoir-faire and the latter with his cuisine where extreme harmony between research, flavors, and local ingredients is found, including those derived from his 'hortus conclusus.'

Casin del Gamba - Altissimo (VI)

dania cerato e antonio del lago2

The story of Daria Cerato and Antonio Dal Lago is a long one: it's the story of a couple who has been working side by side since 1976 in what was once a hunting lodge nestled between the valleys of Agno and Chiampo. An elegant, magical place with a timeless charm, where this couple, now aided by their son Luca, has created a gastronomic destination far from the usual routes that deserves to be visited and enjoyed at any time of the year, also because here the products of the surrounding woods, from which Casin del Gamba is surrounded, are used with exquisite wisdom.

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