The Marco Polo of Italian Cuisine

What do Washington, Miami, Pittsburg, and Chicago, have in common with Aruba?

Chef Gaetano Ascione, the Marco Polo of Italian cuisine, about to open Patrizia’s of New York on Palm Beach. The sign just went up.

He presently owns a comfortably elevated Italian restaurant in Chicago, and is involved with a few others, as co-owner and/or consultant.

I didn’t find an updated resume of the Italian-born explorer, globe trotter, but judging from on-line publications, he surely cooked his way around the world, at least twice.

Chef Ascione is proud to say he cooked for Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and had the honor to serve as executive chef for the inaugural banquet for South African President Nelson Mandela, whom he admires. During his career he hung his apron at two two-star Michelin restaurants, and owned two upscale restaurants in Singapore.

The man has a good personal story, and he tells it well, befitting a passionate Neapolitan chef. Its passion for my profession, he says, not ego.

And he is about to open a ‘big enough’ restaurant here, serving I imagine traditional & updated Italian fare in a relaxed dining room with full bar & patio, similar to his Chicago operation.

What possessed you, I asked, why Aruba.

Apparently, the restaurant’s idea was hatched when two Italians from the same town happened to meet, and brainstormed, one had access to a nice piece of real estate the other owned an award winning cookbook.

Chef Ascione reports he will also be opening PICA, a Politically Incorrect Cooking Academy, in Aruba designed to teach locals and visitors not to overcook pasta, nothing too serious, more a-la Mel Brooks, he adds, and he will be offering a Chef’s Table in the kitchen, The Punishment Corner, he explains, where guests will be served whatever the chef was inspired to cook.

Greatly interested in the local market, the chef who speak six languages, is ready to communicate with his guests and employees, in their own language, whatever it is.

Aruba is attracting investment, good people with great intentions.

I trust the Minister of Labor, helps cure the DIMAS paralysis. The turtles at Departamento di Integracion, Maneho y Admision di Stranhero must do their share. If you allow investment, grant business permits and liquor licenses, you must also facilitate work-permits for chefs and service coaches, because new businesses without qualified help cannot deliver first-class experiences.

And incidentally, old, well-established businesses without qualified help, chefs and service coaches, cannot deliver on their promises, either.

Minister, let us know your policy. #ministryoflabor


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February 12, 2022
Rona Coster