Chef Michael White of Alta Marea Restaurant Group - Biography

New York, NY

August 2014

Wisconsinite Michael White enrolled in classes at Chicago’s Kendall Culinary Institute in 1989 on a whim—launching his unlikely journey into America’s Italian culinary cannon. Just a year out of school, White worked for Paul Bartolotta at Chicago’s Spiaggia, following Bartolotta to Italy to train with venerated Italian Chef Valentino Marcattilii at Ristorante San Domenico in Imola. It was there, learning to cook in the Old World kitchen, and trailing Marcatttilii across the country for seven years, that White began his Italian transformation. He lingered at markets, made pastas by hand, nurtured sauces to their peak, and explored the depths of the Mediterranean and countryside.

White returned to the States in 2001, his technique respectfully rooted in Italian culinary traditions and his ambition fueled by a desire to share them. He promptly earned a Chicago Tribune four-star review as chef de cuisine at Spiaggia. A year later, he made the pivotal move to New York, working as executive chef of Fiamma Osteria before opening L’Impero and Alto with Chris Cannon. Cannon and White would eventually part ways, with Cannon retaining Convivio and Alto and White overseeing a number of Italian concepts in his Altamarea Restaurant Group: Marea, Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori, and Due Mari and Due Terre in New Jersey, as well as seafood-centric Al Molo Ristorante Italiano on the Hong Kong waterfront.

Partnered now with Ahmass Fakahany in Altamarea, White continues his local expansion and exploration of all things Italian, opening modern steakhouse Costata, pizzeria Nicoletta, upscale Ristorante Morini, and cocktail-driven The Butterfly in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood.