Executive Chef, Le Virtù
Executive Chef Joe Cicala trained in Salerno, Italy under Chef Pietro Rispoli before embarking on an American career that would take him through some of the East Coast’s best kitchens, including Galileo and Cafe Milano in D.C. and Del Posto in New York. But his culinary career began in more humble circumstances and only after he’d explored another dream.
As a teenager, Joe was an aspiring hockey player plying his trade in the tough world of that sport’s Junior leagues. Born and raised in suburban D.C., Joe’s hockey development was unlikely but he advanced all the way to the professional ranks, dressing for two A.H.L. games. His realization that he gone as far as he could on the ice coincided with his mother’s decision to open her own Italian catering business. So, it was while helping his mother in the kitchen…a very familiar Italian experience…that he realized his true calling.
Joe brings a great respect and knowledge for Italian traditions to the Le Virtù kitchen as well as a passion and talent for innovation. His “cucina” is at once rustic and vibrant, taking La Cucina Abruzzese in directions that are both new and perfectly natural: his menu includes dishes that hew strictly to tradition and others that employ Abruzzese ingredients and components in novel, seamless ways.
Joe was a 2013 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Rising Star Chef of The Year.