Joe Magnanelli, Executive Chef at Urban Kitchen Group, began his career at the age of 16 and quickly made a mark for himself as a force of natural talent. After gaining experience at various small, family-owned restaurants in his hometown in Maryland, Magnanelli set his sights on our nation’s capital. He worked in some of D.C.’s finest restaurants, beginning with a study of the art of French technique with Chef Sandro Gamba, an Alaine Ducasse disciple, at Lespinasse. Moving on to the acclaimed Bistrot Lepic in upper Georgetown, he learned the rich, rustic fare of southern France under Stephane Lezla. After making a stop in the nation’s capital at the exclusive Ritz Carlton on M Street, Magnanelli decided to head west to San Diego. He landed at El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, where he worked as sous chef under the direction of executive chef Gavin Kaysen.
In mid 2006, Magnanelli joined Urban Kitchen and became the chef de cuisine at Chive. His creative flare was celebrated in the California-inspired small plates menu, and in 2008 Joe took over the reigns at Laurel restaurant + bar.
In 2009, returning to his roots and family heritage, Magnanelli welcomed the idea of transforming Laurel into a high-energy, California-inspired Italian kitchen and wine shop. At CUCINA urbana, Joe has painted his greatest culinary canvas yet, creating a beautiful and simple farm fresh menu that offers exquisite fare at a value-driven price point. In late 2011, he worked with restaurateur Tracy Borkum to open a second CUCINA in Orange County – CUCINA enoteca, and in 2013 opened CUCINA enoteca in Del Mar. In August 2014, he helped open the latest location of CUCINA enoteca at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Chef Joe oversaw the opening of Urban Kitchen Group’s latest restauarant, cucina SORELLA, in 2016.
Magnanelli regularly contributes his time on behalf of community and charity events throughout the county in support of various local and national organizations, including Chef Showdown benefitting the Center for Community Solutions, Chef Celebration which raises funds for an annual local culinary scholarship fund, Kawasaki Disease Foundation, CRA, the San Diego internship program with SDCI, and Rock the Cure to help fight women’s cancers. He is also an avid supporter of sustainable farming practices and strives to work with as many local supplier partners as possible.