joeCulinary Director and Co-Owner Joe Cicala

… is a four-time James Beard semifinalist and one-time finalist at Le Virtù, our Abruzzese-themed restaurant also located on East Passyunk. Joe’s familial roots are in Sicilia and Basilicata, and his most formative cooking instruction occurred during a two-year stint at Al Cenacolo, Pietro Rispoli’s 4-person Michelin-starred kitchen in Salerno, Campania. He has also cooked in some well-regarded American kitchens, including Roberto Donna’s Galileo and Mark Ladner’s Del Posto. Joe studied pizza-making at Napoli’s AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) school. He’s a Star Chefs award winner for charcuterie and has earned high praise in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia magazine, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, and numerous other print and online publications. Chef Cicala has traveled throughout Italy, focusing especially on Campania, Sicilia, Abruzzo and other southern regions. He lives in South Philadelphia not far from East Passyunk Avenue. Joe helms the kitchen full-time at Le Virtu’ and oversees the culinary mission and menu development of Brigantessa.

Executive Chef Julia Robinson

julia photo… A Wilmington, DE native, Julia started cooking at a young age with her grandmother. While obtaining a Criminal Justice BA at the University of Delaware, she decided to change course and pursue the culinary arts instead of law school. She began as a line cook at Wilmington’s Restaurant 821 under Chef Nate Garyantes, where Julia started honing her skills. At age 21, she moved to Chicago, where she spent six years at Vivere, focusing on upscale regional Italian cuisine (one of the Italian Village Restaurants owned for generations by the Capitanini family).  Working under Chef Robert Reynaud, Julia became Vivere’s sous chef, where she found an appreciation for simplistic, ingredient-focused food, the art of pasta-making and the dramatic differences within the regions of Italy, especially pertaining to food and wine. One of Julia’s many duties as sous chef was creating custom tasting menus to pair with wines already selected by the guest.

In 2013, Julia returned to the Philadelphia area and accepted the Chef de Cuisine position at White Dog Café, under Chef Zach Grainda, where she created menus focusing on local, sustainable ingredients from area farms. In summer 2015, Julia began as the Chef de Cuisine at Brigantessa, combining her expertise in using local ingredients and her love for Italian cuisine. Her dedication to Brigantessa’s mission and interpretation and execution of southern Italy’s diverse cuisines have earned her the position of Executive Chef.