A lover of the culinary arts for over 30 years, Maria Reina made the bold decision in 2007 to walk away from a 23-year career in corporate and retail management and head to the kitchen.

She embarked on formal culinary training in New York City at the International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute). Maria’s program of study began in New York City and then continued at the prestigious Italian cooking school, ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana. There, she learned to cook regional Italian dishes and studied the wines and the regional history of Italy. Maria then went on to apprentice at Ristorante Reale, a beautiful two-Michelin star restaurant located in the resort town of Rivisondoli in the mountains of Abruzzo, about an hour and a half from Rome. After completing her apprenticeship, Maria returned to the U.S. and received her Grande Diplôme from the ICA.

Just after graduation she joined Tarry Lodge, the highly acclaimed restaurant in the Bastianich group, located in Port Chester, New York, as part of the original opening team. After an exhilarating year in the Tarry Lodge kitchen she decided to strike out on her own and create Bella Cucina Maria, Ltd. in 2009, and she hasn't looked back.  Over the years she has privately cooked and catered for a diverse clientele, including business leaders, philanthropists, theatre actors and producers of stage and screen, restaurateurs, the Consulate General and Ambassador to Canada, and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, to name a few.  Maria is also a cooking class teacher in Manhattan, Fairfield and Westchester County.
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