Italian Cuisine World Summit :: Dubai



Sud, Quarto (Napoli)

Nov. 16-19 - Guest at

Bice Mare
Downtown Burj Khalifa Souk Al Bahar, DubaiMall
+971 4 386 0066

Francesco Guarracino

Hosting Chef


Marianna Vitale has recently turned 30. Young but independent, right from the start – if you think that in this country children grow glued to their greying mothers. Some time was necessary, however, for her to connect her childhood instinct to the adult desire of being a chef. When she was a kid, she observed people constantly sitting at the table, in their ever open Naples' house, in Porta Capuana, just off the coach station. «I was always hungry, and had few toys», she recalls. So she enjoyed stirring saucepans and casseroles following the example of her grandmother. And that of her father, a chef by profession «who twenty years ago already prepared very contemporary dishes».

The pangs of the kitchen gnaw even when the official mission is to study. Marianna graduated in Spanish literature and her first job was to illustrate, to foreign tourists, every gorge in San Gregorio Armeno and Decumani in a language Neapolitans typically find familiar. And in the same corner of piazza San Domenico, in 2008, the turning point materializes: Lino Scarallo calls her to gain some experience, working for one year in the kitchen of Palazzo Petrucci. «He's a great worker, with a low profile and a sole objective: nourishing». From him she learns the contours of a simple cuisine, of territory. Soon her ambition drives her to transfer this into her own project. And not just her own, but her husband's too, for in the meantime she marries Pino Esposito, a kind sommelier from Quarto. It is here, in the difficult heart of the Campi Flegrei, that in May 2009, between the sulphur winds of Pozzuoli and general skepticism, they open their restaurant, Sud: «I knew the road would be difficult, but I didn't know how much so». In effect, less than expected: in November 2011 the first Michelin star arrived. This is also when Marianna decides to join the association of Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe.

In 2011 she also gets awarded as the best emerging chef by “Il Sole 24 Ore” and wins the prize “Top di domani Ruota d’Oro”, for the Italian hotels and restaurants guidebook, printed by Touring Club. She regularly gives cooking classes at Alma, the international school of italian cuisine based in Colorno,and for Neapolitan district of Confcommercio.

In 2012 she takes part to the Identità Golose international cooking congress. On may she’s special guest for Rai 1 tv show “La Terra dei Cuochi”, and after then joins the cast of “La Prova del Cuoco”. Altough she doesn’t have time left for anything else, chooses to improve her skills spending her vacations as an intern at three-starred Michelin restaurants, the  spanish Quique Dacosta’s in Denia first, and french Laguiole based Michel Bras’ then, respectively in 2012 and 2013.

The «totally unexpected» acknowledgement arrived in truth at the peak of two years of constant word-of-mouth: there were people coming from Milan or Reggio Calabria for the day, just to try the colourful cuisine of this young woman who bustles with fifth quarters and humble ingredients with regality. An oxymoron open on gradually widening sections of the world, as in the recent fascination with the Southern Mediterranean area. It's like a running train that doesn't appear to be ending in Quarto: «I'd like to celebrate the Campi Flegrei in a larger and more dignified place. Even if it might take me 10 years». Of course, the reader will agree that this will certainly happen sooner.

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