Born in Queens, New York, but raised in Avellino, Italy, Chef Michael Pirolo (40) comes from a fiercely passionate food family. So much, in fact, that at the age of 21 he enrolled in culinary school in Torino, Italy; a formal education that led to apprenticeships at Michelin-starred establishments such as La Voglia Matta in Bologna and Café Groppi in Piemonte. After finishing his degree, he relocated to New York and changed tracks, immersing himself in French cuisine before relocating to Philadelphia to take the role of sous chef at Alfred Portale’s Striped Bass where he met his now-life and business partner Jen Chaefsky. A friendship turned to romance and when Pirolo had the opportunity to return to New York to take a post at Chris Lee’s Gilt at the Palace Hotel, Chaefsky accompanied him and the pair have been inseparable ever since. During Pirolo’s time at Gilt, the restaurant earned two Michelin stars. Following his love of Italian cuisine and striking up a professional bond with celeb chef/restauranteur Scott Conant, Pirolo joined Conant’s Scarpetta restaurant in New York, then relocated to Miami to take the helm as chef de cuisine of Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. There, Pirolo made a name for himself and rose through the media ranks as a rising star in Miami’s culinary community, an earnest, hard-working, careerist “chef’s chef.” A rare four-star review from The Miami Herald food critic Victoria Pesce Elliot helped elevate his profile and set the stage for Pirolo to move out on his own. Pirolo went on to open Macchialina with partner, Jen Chaefsky and sister Jacqueline Pirolo, on Miami Beach’s Alton Road in 2012. The restaurant opened to much acclaim, earning the duo accolades including being ranked among the top “South Florida Food 50” by The Miami Herald (February 2015). In 2016, Pirolo was named a James Beard Award semi-finalist (Best Chef: South) and in 2018 Macchialina was selected as the best Italian restaurant in Florida by The Daily Meal. A tried and true Miami Beach standout, Macchialina’s rotating pasta specialties, intimate atmosphere and local cult following continue to garner the restaurant both local and national praise.
"I have quite a few favorite dishes but the short list is Leche de Tigre, Buffalo Wings, and a spicy Spaghetti Pomodoro with fresh basil. I could, and have, eaten these dishes multiple times a week and have never gotten over them. Anything with salt, acid, and heat does it for me!"
"For me, the perfect dish is spaghetti con vongole. I never tire of eating it. There is such a wonderfully delicate balance between the sweetness of the garlic, the brininess of the clams and the heat you get in the back of your throat from the peperoncino. Oh, and don't skimp on the clams, I don't want to even be able to see the spaghetti before I've eaten 10 clams."
"I love whole fish, salt crusted and/or fire roasted. I love picking around the head and getting every morsel from the bones. There's something so satisfying about it."
"I can eat pasta every single day. I couldn't possibly choose one, but in my top 3 would be orecchiette with broccoli rabe along side a glass of timorasso."