Marcello Russodivito was born in Campobasso—the capital city of the Italian region of Molise. His family originates from Riccia which is one of the largest towns of the province where he spent his infancy and childhood.
Born the youngest of five children, after the sudden death of his father, he began working in restaurants when he was just 13 years old. At the age of 14, he traveled to study at the “Hotel Institute of Montecatini Terme” in Tuscany for three years until he graduated.
To improve and refine all that he learned, Marcello worked the next six years around the world to perfect his culinary talent in Switzerland, Germany, France, England and, finally, in Bermuda.
In Bermuda he met his wife, Carolyn, and they both moved back to the United States. Here he perfected his art, working for some of the most famous restaurants in New York and New Jersey. This experience led him to understand what the American customer wants and expects from a good restaurant.
In 1986, Marcello realized his dream as a chef and opened his first restaurant in Suffern, Rockland County—New York State.
In 1992, Marcello appeared on the “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee Show” preparing his most loved recipe for “Tiramisù.”
In 1993, Zagat appointed Marcello’s Ristorante as “One of the 50 best restaurants in the Tri-State area.” “Crain’s New York Business” ranked Marcello’s Ristorante as “one of the best Italian restaurants outside of Manhattan.”
In 1994, Marcello participated in the inaugural event at the Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of the City of New York with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani residing for the ’94 Soccer World Cup.
In 1996, Marcello opened “Caffè Dolce” Trattoria, referring to the Italian and European tradition of meeting friends and hanging around over a bite to eat.
On June 4, 1997, the Ministers of Agriculture and Foreign Trade in Italy awarded the “Insegna del Ristorante Italiano nel Mondo” to Marcello. This award is given to those who have demonstrated superior achievement in the culinary arts and have acted as “Goodwill Ambassadors” for promoting the Italian culture abroad.
In June 1997, Marcello took part in the successful series organized by the James Beard Foundation, cooking in a fully-booked event at the James Beard House which is considered the “Carnegie Hall” of Culinary Arts.
From 1998 to 2007, Marcello reopened the historic “Ho-Ho-Kus Inn” in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. This 257-year-old home boasted six elegant rooms where Marcello served his fine contemporary Italian cuisine.
In 2005, Marcello published his first cookbook and wine guide entitled, “Sale, Pepe, Amore e Fantasia” (“Salt, Pepper, Love and Creativity”) with great success.
In 2008, Marcello participated as a Food Consultant in the film “Lymelife,” directed by Derick Martini starring Alec Baldwin, Rory and Kieran Culkin, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon and Emma Roberts. He was in charge of the food preparation for the scenes shot in the movie and even took part as a speaking actor in some scenes.
In November 2009, still within an economic crisis, Marcello opened a casual restaurant in Nutley, New Jersey called “Mamma Vittoria,”dedicated in loving memory to his mother who recently passed away. Marcello’s mother shared his passion for great food and had an important influence on his culinary expertise.
Marcello is currently a member of the Ciao Italia Association (Italian restaurants from all over the world with its headquarters based in Rome). With this Association, Marcello had the honor to meet three different Italian heads of State: president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale (the presidential palace) in Rome.
Over the years, Marcello has been a major contributor of his talent as well as of his food to organizations such as “Taste of the Nation,” “Menu of Hope,” “ARC of Rockland,” “Good Samaritan Hospital” plus many others in need of help and support.
Currently, in his Suffern location, Marcello continues to welcome and greet his customers always attentive to their questions or needs (a trademark he has developed over the years). Marcello’s special feature is his Chef Table and Cooking Demonstration Studio where customers can experience either cooking classes or have Marcello cook a private dinner party up to twelve people.
Marcello is also a guest chef every Monday morning on radio Rockland WRCR AM 1300 (now 1700)from 8:45 am to 9:00 am – www.wrcr.com.
In 2005, he filmed a video program for local television channels called “Brindiamo! A Toast to the Finest Italian Restaurants,” hosted by Ornella Fado, producer of the television show “Brindiamo.”
In 2010 he participated with Ornella Fado, (www.Brindiamotv.com), in a cooking competition sponsored by the Hotel School Piemontese (IFSE– Italian Style Food Education – Culinary Institute) as a judge and instructor. The event was held at the Astor Place in New York. During the competition Marcello helped American students in the creation of special dishes made with Asti spumante.
Again in New York with Ornella Fado (www.Brindiamotv.com) he participated in the Columbus Day parade on 5th Ave with Italian chefs representing the Italian cuisine in the USA.
In November 2010, Marcello accepted the invitation of the “Virtual Group of Italian Chefs” (www.gvci.org or www.itchefs-gvci.com) and participated in the “Italian Cuisine Asia Summit” to promote Italian cuisine in Hong Kong (China).
In 2011, again with the “Virtual Group of Italian Chefs” he participated in the “Pesto Day” an event that takes place every year to promote a regional Italian dish.
In February 2011, with his partner Abe, he completed the expansion of the catering room of Mamma
Vittoria in Nutley (N.J.) with great success.
Marcello created his second cookbook with new recipes, the story of his 25 years of his career as a chef/owner in the U.S. The book celebrates the 25th anniversary of his restaurant of Suffern; he is also organized two concerts with various artists performing Italian classical music, opera and pop music at the Lafayette Theatre, over 90 year old historic theater of the town.
In November 2011, Marcello originated and helped execute the very first “Corks & Forks” charity event for the Good Samaritan Hospital at the Sheraton Crossroads. He also contributed the following year.
In October 2011, Marcello walked the Columbus Day Parade with Ornella Fado of the New York Life TV station, “Brindiamo”.
In April 2013, Marcello sold his shares of the Mamma Vittoria Ristorante in Nutley to his partner Abe.
In 2014, Marcello attended a charity event in Italy—Vico Equense on the Amalfi Coast with Italy’s top chefs from all over Italy with great success. And when he returned from his trip, he was honored as a “Business Leader” by both Rockland Community College and the Marion Shrine Church of Stony Point, NY.
In 2014, unfortunately due to illness of his former partner Abe, Marcello purchased and reorganized Mamma Vittoria Ristorante to continue and maintain its success. He then collaborated with his new partners, Nella and Gerry, and changed the restaurant into a beautiful catering hall presently in operation.
In July 2015, Marcello visited the Milano Expo which featured over 60 countries representing their food, culture and wines. While in Italy, Marcello met with Alfredo of the Terresacre Winery in his home region of Molise, Italy. Upon tasting his amazing wines and olive oil, Marcello expressed his desire to represent one of his home region’s best winery. He approached Alfredo with the idea of helping him import his products. With the help of Wine Emporium—this became a reality with great success!
In November 2015, Marcello formed Chef Marcello Gourmet Imports.” This webstore features only the finest products handpicked by Marcello himself from different regions of Italy. Products ranging from the best Extra virgin olive oils, Artisanal pasta, Calabrian spicy chili products and Tomato.
In February 2016, attended the launching of the “Uomo Moderno” magazine with a guest star of the former prince of Italy, Prince Emanuele di Savoia. The prince was featured on the cover with an exclusive interview at the Lincoln Square Steakhouse. After the magazine interview, Marcello and the prince then filmed a cooking segment, at the same location, for Ornella Fado’s TV special “Brindiamo!” (Let’s toast!).
In April and September of 2016, Marcello organized his own personal Italian tours to Italy, centered around the VinItaly festival in Verona in April and the Festa Della Uva (Wine harvest Vendemmia) in his region of Molise (central Italy) with much success. He presently continues this passion for food/wine/travel and has extended his tours to different regions of Italy.
In 2018, Marcello’s of Suffern took on its most beautiful and important transformation—Marcello envisioned the ultimate party room designed with a multi-colored LED ceiling lights, a 15 ft. projection screen with Bluetooth capability and dance floor. Perfect for special parties and business conferences.
And in 2019 Marcello continued to host many parties and events in the party room such as the “Mozzarella Man” singing opera while making fresh homemade mozzarella, wine parties with Anna Veleva (opera singer) as well as Superbowl Sunday. And Marcello continued with his tours to Italy and even had three wonderful tours planned for the upcoming September 2020, but who would have imagined the outcome of the year 2020.
Marcello’s has survived many recessions in 34 years, and now will maintain and survive yet another major obstacle.
In light of delicious, healthy and nourishing Italian food, Marcello’s will always be straight forward and true!
Buon Appetito always!