Rosanna Marziale

Rosanna Marziale

Cooking at her family’s restaurant near Naples, Rosanna Marziale is spearheading the new Southern Italian cuisine, creating dishes which celebrate the traditions and specialities of the region with modern technique and imagination. ‘The Queen of Mozzarella’, she specialises in repurposing this buffalo cheese into creative new dishes.

Rosanna Marziale was born in Caserta, in the Campania region north of Naples. Her father opened his first restaurant in the 1950s and she grew up in this environment; and her key food memories centre on the people who worked and cooked in the restaurant. Her father and aunts often told stories of her grandmother. Although sick, she retained complete control of the household, particularly the food, even cleaning fruits and vegetables in bed. She opened her home to their friends and everyone was welcome at mealtimes.

Leaving the fold to develop her culinary talents, she trained with Martin Berasategui at his eponymously named three Michelin star restaurant on the outskirts of San Sebastián in northern Spain. She also worked under Gianfranco Vissani, at his two-star restaurant, Casa Vissani, in Baschi, central Italy. Here she learnt the backbone of high-end, classical, Italian cuisine, saying of the experience: ‘Gianfranco helped me realise my own style and voice in my cooking.’ But her greatest mentor remains her father, whose cuisine she remains deeply passionate about.

In 1998 she became head chef of the family restaurant, Le Colonne, in her home city, going on to earn a Michelin star in 2013. Her cuisine remains loyal to the traditions of suburban Naples, inspired by her childhood memories, but infused with fresh, experimental ideas. She told us: ‘Inside me there is a child building a catalogue of flavours from memories of the old bakery, local cheeses, fresh anchovies.’ Dishes such as Risotto with buffalo mozzarella, Risotto with San Marzano tomatoes and Soup with mussels and black mozzarella milk showcase the flavours of the region with modern creativity and flair.

Now one of the key representatives of new Southern Italian cuisine, Rosanna is dedicated to celebrating the ingredients of Campania, and specialities such as Sorrento lemons, San Marzano tomatoes and Gragnano pasta feature strongly in her menus. But it is buffalo products, particularly mozzarella di bufala Campana DOP (buffalo mozzarella from Campania PDO), that she is best known for – a reputation that has led to her being dubbed ‘The Queen of Mozzarella’. An ambassador for the cheese, she has pioneered new techniques and recipes to create a series of signature dishes such as La pizza al contrairo (the inside out pizza) which uses specially prepared mozzarella as the base and bread as one of the toppings. Her Mozzarella cheesecake with raspberry sauce repurposes the cheese as part of a sweet, creamy dessert. With these dishes she seeks to show that by reconceptualising ingredients, we can do anything our imagination allows.

She has also written two books for children and a fairy tale called Sorrisi di Latte (Milky Smiles) and she is the main character of a cartoon, La Cuoca Girovaga (The Travelling Chef). Her future plans include creating a children’s cartoon with characters made of food. In honour of her most prized ingredient, she has also published a book, Evviva la Mozzarella! Proposte Gourmand con la Bufala Campana (Cheers to Mozzarella! Gourmet Ideas for Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania), which contains over a hundred ideas for how to eat the cheese in all its forms.