The man behind the menu at Un Piano nel Cielo has given traditional Campanian cuisine a contemporary twist — and put Casa Angelina on the map as a top foodie destination.
From Naples and Milan to London and Japan, Vincenzo Vanacore has worked in prestigious kitchens all over the world — but it’s his most recent stint on the Amalfi Coast that’s thrust the executive chef into the limelight on a global stage. Inspired by his gastronomic journey, the man behind the menu at Casa Angelina has shaken up Campanian cuisine, infusing Mediterranean classics with Asian-inspired flourishes — without losing sight of his Neapolitan roots.
Born, quite fittingly, in the food mecca that is Vico Equense, Vanacore grew up among the rich culinary landscape of Naples — think fresh fish and seafood, fine cheeses, flavourful pasta and delicate sweet treats. He began his career at the historic Osteria La Chitarra restaurant in the 1980s, after which he cut his teeth on elite fine-dining at Le Sirenuse, a landmark five-star hotel in Positano. During his 10-year tenure, Vanacore learnt from top-notch Italian and international chefs and consolidated his reputation as a trailblazer in the kitchen, preparing creative dishes for the globetrotting gastronomes who flock to the Amalfi Coast.
With all this invaluable experience under his belt, Vanacore headed to the esteemed Ristorante Savini in Milan, where he mastered the art of risotto and other gourmet rice dishes, before moving to England to work at The Gray & Harry’s Bar, followed by another spell in Milan at Rêve Café. Always keen to expand his repertoire, Vanacore embarked on a course to learn the skill of making sushi, which then galvanised him to travel to Japan to discover first-hand the different cooking techniques and local cultures.
However, the lure of the Amalfi Coast proved irresistible, and in 2010, Vanacore returned to take the helm of Un Piano nel Cielo at Casa Angelina, the jewel of Amalfi’s crown. Inspired by his travels, the executive chef created ‘Neapolitan sushi’, a Mediterranean take on the Japanese delicacy — finely chopped spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, tuna bites and garlic, served in a Martini glass. It was this innovative creation that elevated his culinary profile to an international level — and put Casa Angelina on the map as a top dining destination.
His secret for success? The 50-year-old reinvents and redefines Campanian classics, shining a spotlight on local produce from the Amalfi Coast and Sorretine Peninsula — the subtle flavours of citrus fruits and sun-ripened vegetables set the stage for the star of the dish: catch of the day, homemade ravioli or the finest cuts. His culinary style shines through in standouts such as sautéed squid with orange-flavoured potato and buffalo ricotta cheese; artichoke-crusted sea bass with “scapece” pumpkin cream; and homemade paccheri pasta with artichokes, aniseed and smoked bacon — all served with epic sea views.
Keen to share his expertise, Vanacore developed A Taste of Historic Amalfi, an immersive experience for Casa Angelina’s guests to learn about the area’s culinary traditions and customs, limoncello cocktail in hand. Vanacore rustles up a specially created menu of rare regional specialties, from zuppa di pesce (fish soup) to ragù (pasta with meat-based sauce). Guests can then sample the meals while picking the chef’s brains about the dishes’ origins, preparation methods and his emotional connection to them — an important part of the Italian food culture. Best of all, a handwritten recipe card allows budding cooks to take a slice of Amalfi home with them — and begin their own culinary journey.