Maurizio Farinelli, an experienced, third-generation restaurateur born and raised in Torino, the gastronomic heartland of northern Italy, boasts an impressive track record of opening and operating successful, high-quality restaurants. Whether the concept is fine dining or casual, Maurizio truly has the “golden touch.”
From Trattoria Sole, Trattoria Luna, and Blu la Pizzeria del Sole in South Miami to Coconut Grove’s Strada in the Grove, Farinelli 1937 Pizzeria & Cucina and more, Maurizio has always had a keen sense for what diners want, and the ability to deliver a winning concept that checks all the boxes: desirable location, inviting ambiance, excellent service and superb cuisine.
Maurizio, 61, got his start in the hospitality business nearly 42 years ago as the floor manager for a popular Monte Carlo restaurant. He returned to his hometown of Torino for a five-year stint as co-owner and operator of the Grand Bar Group before moving to the Dominican Republic to open Las Brisas Hotel Cabarete in 1989. After selling the hotel in 1991, Maurizio, on a whim, flew to Miami to visit some old friends. He instantly fell in love with the “Magic City” and, to the later good fortune of many an area diner, he decided to stay.
Speaking no English, Maurizio enrolled in English language classes at Berlitz Language Center during the day. After classes, he would walk across the street to La Bussola, a fixture of the Coral Gables dining scene for 22 years, where he worked as a busser. In the coming years, he worked his way up through various local restaurants, eventually landing a job as general manager of Brasserie Le Coze, the popular Coconut Grove spot owned by Gilbert and Maguy Le Coze, the brother-sister team behind the famed New York seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin.
In 1996, Maurizio felt the time was right to venture out on his own. He opened Trattoria Sole in South Miami, the city’s first fine-dining, white-tablecloth establishment since Grentner’s for Steak in the late 1960s. Sole proved to be an instant success, drawing a well-heeled crowd that included, among others, actor Michael Douglas and Miami Heat president Pat Riley, a regular there for years.
Loving the laidback lifestyle, he found in the “City of Pleasant Living,” he bought a home here and has been a resident for nearly 25 years.
Buoyed by his success with Trattoria Sole – and eager to grow as a restaurateur-entrepreneur Maurizio opened Trattoria Luna in 1998, followed by Blu la Pizzeria del Sole in 2000, and then Blu Pizza & Cucina in Brickell in 2008. He later shifted his focus to Coconut Grove, whose restaurant and retail sector was still a few years away from a major revival when he opened Strada in the Grove in 2013.
Like his previous establishments in South Miami, Strada was an instant success, and the restaurant was awarded the Seal of Approval and Authenticity, presented by the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism to the very best Italian restaurants around the world. Maurizio followed Strada up three years later with Farinelli 1937 Pizzeria & Cucina, an homage to his grandparents, who opened their very first restaurant in Bologna that year.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Maurizio in 2019 decided to sell his Coconut Grove restaurants and travel the world to expand his culinary horizons. He spent months traveling throughout Italy and Israel, visiting acclaimed restaurants, wineries and markets to learn from fellow culinarians about different customs, cuisines and
He then spent two and a half months as a student at Japan’s prestigious Tokyo Sushi Academy, where he learned virtually everything there is to know about fish and its preparation. Maurizio is now certified by Japan’s Ministry of Food Industry to prepare sushi, sashimi and Japanese cuisine according to the country’s stringent standards.
Maurizio is an honorary ambassador of the city of Asti for promoting food and culture throughout the world, and also serves as secretary of the Italian Comites, an organization that, under the direction of Italy’s government, develops and promotes Italian culture across the globe.
A warm and affable host who speaks Italian, English, Spanish and French, the unpretentious, soft-spoken Maurizio has worked every aspect of the business and knows exactly what it takes to build a successful restaurant. With each and every one of his establishments, he has always been respected by his staff, beloved by his guests and welcomed by surrounding businesses who appreciate his ability to bring increased traffic to their neighborhood.
– Peter B. Laird