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Our History Scopriteci - Discover Us

Our History Scopriteci - Discover Us

Marco Avila, Executive Chef & Co-Owner
Best Pizza in SF
“I have a long standing love affair with pasta, says Avila. “I love to smell it, touch it, see how the sauce blends and covers it. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, really.”

Master Chef Marco Avila was born in the heart of Tuscany, in the beautiful city of Pisa, growing up in a world of restaurants and hotels, where his parents were emplyed. But even though he grew up in the hospitality industry, Marco’s passion for cooking comes straight from his grandmother, “Nona Marina”, who was considered an artist in the region due to her expertise making fresh pasta.

Born in Pisa but reared in the picturesque port city of Livorno, Marco fell in love with local sea food at an early age. At once hooked on the culinary arts, Marco attended a professional culinary high school in Livorno, eventually heeding the recommendation of his teacher, Professor Calogero – that being, to his natural talent for cooking to the commercial kitchen.

After high school, Marco worked in many restaurants in various Tuscan cities such as Siena, Florence, Pisa, Castiglioncello, Livorno, learning an array of traditional styles and recipes while always respecting the spirit of the original recipes. After a decade working the restaurant circuit, Marco teamed with his aunt, “Zia Silvana” and launched a small restaurant on the beach of the Tyrrenian Tuscan coast. Now, for the first time, Marco was the boss of his own kitchen and could freely express himself creatively. And when his first customers started to enjoy his original creations, he felt one of the best sensations he had ever experienced. Here on the Tyrrenian Tuscan coast, the spirit of a chef was born!

During the years that followed the opening of La Siesta beach Restaurant, Marco continued to study and researched food, concentrating on the way ingredients could be combined to achieve the affect. To this end, he visited different countries sampling the food myriad cultures and experiencing many different types of cooking. Simultaneously, La Siesta Beach Restaurant became on of the premiere establishments on the Tyrrenean coast, with Marco a popular figure and chef throughout Tuscany.

Finally, in the summer of 2015 Marco met Dario Nicotra, a restaurant owner from San Francisco. The duo met during one of Dario’s frequent trips to Italy. Dario had heard of Marco’s food and wanted to try his recipes and see if the hype was real. Dario quickly fell in love with the dishes he tried and wanted to meet Chef Marco in person. Over the course of few weeks, the two men became very good friends and Dario asked Marco to visit him in San Francisco for a culinary consultation at Acquolina, Dario’s 3 year old restaurant. Marco saw tremendous possibilities at Acquolina that he decided to join forces with Dario and moved from his native Italy to California to further transform Acquolina by-way of his famous Tuscan Cook book.

Marco’s Philosophy on Cooking

Every day when I enter my kitchen my mission is to not only give my customers exceptional food, but to provide an unique experience for them by stimulating each of their senses. For me, cooking is comprised of 60% quality ingredients and 40% technique. Really, to be great in the kitchen you must choose the best ingredients – the freshness of the products is even more important than the cooks ability. In thrun finding the perfect blend of taste, place and time is a constant challenge for me as I refine my skills as a chef. In my mind, great cuisine is not just the expression of the genius imposed by a man on a particular product. It is also about the knowledge he has gained over the years, strengthened by contacts with other great chefs and with guests. Coooking is an art that requires a true knowledge of traditional methods which are then combined with the chef’s passion and creative spirit. If his journey is successful, you will remember everything you taste from his kitchen.

Dario Nicotra, General Manager & Co-Owner

Co-owner Dario Nicotra was born in Livorno, Tuscany. He grew up in a traditional Italian Family, where a delicious array of dishes was prepared by “Mamma Fausta,” with glasses of hearty wine carried to her table by Babbo Alcide (Daddy). This scene represents a fundamental part of everyday life in Italy where joy is found in sitting together with family.

As a business man and corporate executive, Dario has traveled the world, experiencing food from many countries. The restaurants, wine bars, bistros, cafes that he frequented in Europe and  America taught him to appreciate not only food and drink, but also, people and community. And it was this ideal that planted the seed for Acquolina.

Moving to San Francisco Bay Area

Dario moved to the Bay Area in 2010, taking a job as CFO for a transportation corporation headquartered in San Francisco. At the time, he wasn’t thinking that he’d launch a restaurant. But one day, exhausted by trying to find good Italian fare in the city, he decided to build the place that everyone was looking for but that did not yet exist. After careful planning, Dario opened “Tuscan Trattoria” in North Beach a reality, opening Acquolina at 1600 Stockton Street in May 2015.

Later in 2017, during one of his trips back to Livorno, Dario introduced his San Francisco restaurant, Acquolina to Master chef and fellow Tuscan Marco Avila. Dario had heard of Marco’s food and wanted to try his recipes and see if the hype was real. Dario quickly fell in love with the dishes he tried and wanted to meet the Chef in person. Over the course of a few weeks, the two men became very good friends. Eventually, Avila traveled to San Francsico to consult on Dario’s concepts. Marco was so taken with the possibilities at Acquolina that the two became partners, sharing in the dream of creating a true “Tuscan Trattoria” in North Beach.

Best Italian Restaurant SF

Farm to Table

Organic – Freshest Produce
Best Italian Pasta Bay Area

House Made

Fresh Pasta
Best Outdoor Patio SF

Outdoor Dinning

Enjoy the fresh air & people watch
Best Italian Cafetteria SF

Simply Delicious

Cafe & House-Made Desserts
Best Italian Restaurant Bay Area

Farm to Table

Freshest Produce
Best Italian Caffetria SF

Simply Delicious

Cafe & Desserts
Best Italian Pasta Bay Area

House Made

Fresh Pasta
Best Outdoor Patio Bay Area

Outdoor Dinning

Enjoy & People watch

Special Events Private

We can easily accommodate private lunches and dinners, cocktail receptions or large-scale birthday or anniversary celebrations, offering special menus for these types of events. Please contact our sales department using the contact form shown below to discuss your options. Or call (415)781-0331.

Acquolina Best Italian Restaurant San Francisco Bay Area

Special Events

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