Love is a raw material

The beautiful story of Alba Esteve Ruiz. From Alicante to the Roca’s, up to Marzapane in Rome

29-05-2014
This 25-year-old Spanish girl arrived in Italy aft

This 25-year-old Spanish girl arrived in Italy after growing up – professionally – in Girona, in the great Celler. At the end of a first experience in Abruzzo, Sicilian Mario Sansone and Angelo Parello brought her to Rome, to open together a place called Marzapane dolce&cucina (tel. +39.06.64781692), which starting from its name already announces its multifunctional vocation

The dishes I create, tell my story and love is my raw material par excellence, the only real guide throughout these 9 years of work. I was born in 1989 in Banyeres de Mariola (Alicante) and started to work in the kitchen when I was still very young. After finishing catering school came the important experience with Paco Torreblanca, an important name in international pastry making and then at the famous El Celler de Can Roca with the Roca brothers.

They taught me discipline, order and humility and it was truly a unique training that I will always keep in my heart. I still consider them a point of reference. Then, exactly there, I met Mattia Spadone of La Bandiera in Civitella Casanova and I soon decided to move and work with him, so I left Spain for Italy. This country conquered me right away, inspiring my dishes and my heart!

Alba’s dishes are always in balance between Spain and Italy, thus full of Mediterranean influences

Alba’s dishes are always in balance between Spain and Italy, thus full of Mediterranean influences

It was in Rome, where I moved initially on a temporary basis, that I met my current partner, Michel. Initially it was not easy: this large city found me unprepared but I didn’t give up and after the first experience I met Mario and Angelo. Thanks to them, who put me in charge of the kitchen of Marzapane, a very important phase in my career and in my life in general began. I had a kitchen of my own and the chance to express my creativity: this was their proposal. I could only accept this challenge!

Marzapane dolce&cucina is a project born out of the culinary passion of two friends, who decided to invest in a tiny restaurant, focusing on quality and excellent raw materials. I can say that I have also grown together with this place, we put ourselves to the test, we experimented, we always tried to improve our offer and it is thanks to this enthusiasm that we have received the first acknowledgements: two forks in Gambero Rosso’s guide and the Emerging Chef award in 2014 also given by Gambero Rosso. I recently received a prize from Antonella Clerici’s La Prova del Cuoco, a television challenge that is really nice and fun.

Marzapane in via Velletri in Rome is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 1 to 3 pm and from 8 to 11 pm. On Sundays for lunch only

Marzapane in via Velletri in Rome is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 1 to 3 pm and from 8 to 11 pm. On Sundays for lunch only

We’re all enthusiastic about this project: everything is truly extraordinary! The thing that makes me the happiest is seeing the restaurant is always full and that people appreciate my dishes. We’re open for lunch and supper so we always try to offer something new, something special, this is why we often change the menu. Our guests need to feel satisfied and in a welcoming place.

In my recipes there’s always a lot of me, there’s Spain and Italy, so I am careful to keep a strong Mediterranean component. I’m always in search of new inspirations, I love my work and I want to continue to grow professionally. Still, besides my passion for food there’s also lots of responsibility and lots of effort. Despite this, I am very happy. I try to enjoy this moment to the fullest. In the next few months I will often be travelling around Italy on various projects, some unique opportunities to continue to test myself, experiment and try to constantly improve.