Chef Luciano Cibelli is the executive chef for CAVE, Pala Casino Spa & Resort’s new 6,700-square-foot, full-service dining experience, lounge, underground wine cave and entertainment complex.
Luciano discovered his passion for the culinary arts as a young boy in Milan, Italy. There he honed his skills as he perfected his family’s traditional Italian recipes. At 27, he moved to Koln, Germany and was introduced to German and Indian chefs at the prestigious La Vita restaurant. Together, this unique group fused their three cultures into new and exciting cuisine and tastes.
With the experience of European cuisine under his belt, Luciano then set his sights abroad. His worldwide culinary adventure took him across Thailand, Spain, the Caribbean, and finally the U.S., where he became head chef at New York City’s Four Cats Italian restaurant and the world-famous Nick and Maggie’s Steakhouse on Long Island. It was during this time in his career growth that Luciano said, “I discovered that cooking is not about mastering a specific style. Instead, it’s about respecting the integrity of the finest ingredients, finding the correct combinations and creating ways to prepare food without compromising their original, intended flavors.”
Luciano’s continued culinary pursuits eventually led him to San Diego, where he integrated the essence of traditional Italian cuisine with his other world-wide culinary experiences and launched the prestigious Max Restaurant with a continental “fusion” menu.
Luciano first brought his talents to Pala Casino Spa & Resort in 2003, where he opened and ran Mama’s Cucina Italiana to critical acclaim. His leadership and culinary skills led to Mama’s becoming widely regarded as one of the finest Italian dining establishments in Southern California.
In 2015, Mama’s was replaced as part of a multi-million dollar renovation. The new entertainment and dining complex, CAVE, also features San Diego County’s only underground wine cave. Luciano plans to use CAVE to build upon Mama’s success as he creates a unique menu filled with food and wine pairings inspired by the taste of the Mediterranean while maintaining his distinct “Italian flair.”