Born into a family of chefs and raised in Ferrara, a city rich with culinary tradition in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, Massi was destined for a life of cooking. Massi entered the commercial kitchen at age 15, as a summer intern for his father, a prominent chef in Bologna. This experience solidified Massi’s passion for cooking and he went on to five years of formal culinary training.
Massi quickly gained a following for his innovative approach to Northern Italian cuisine, as he regularly pushed the boundaries of regional techniques. Massi has enjoyed working in kitchens across Europe and the States, and training under James Beard Best Chef nominee, Gino Angelini, in both Italy and Los Angeles, where he split his time for three years before meeting Jen, his now wife, six days before returning to Italy.
In 2007, Massi’s dream of opening his own restaurant became a reality when he and Jen opened Riva Cucina in Berkeley. Both Massi and Jen feel incredibly honored to have earned a recommendation from the Michelin Guide, an "extraordinary to perfection" Zagat rating of 26, Oakland Tribune’s Top 10 Best New East Bay Restaurants, as well as countless regulars turned friends over the past ten years. The couple’s newest adventure includes catering private events at wineries and estates in the Napa Valley, where they live with their two young children, Giulia and Luca.
Jen first fell in love with Italian culture and cuisine while studying abroad in Florence. Upon returning home, Jen graduated from Notre Dame and moved west to San Francisco, where she earned her Masters degree in Psychology. Jen’s studies, passion and wanderlust led to a position at an online luxury travel company, Unexplored.com, during the heyday of the Internet boom. An opportunity of a lifetime, she leaped at the chance to research, market, travel to and write about some of the world’s most amazing destinations. One such trip led her to meeting Massi.
Jen later moved into the world of brand strategy, naming and design, where she spent five years managing the branding needs of clients such as Nissan, Verizon, Kashi and Safeway. When Massi found an available restaurant space in Berkeley, Jen jumped on board to help manifest his dream. Traveling to Italy for inspiration is one incredible perk of owning Riva Cucina; tasting Massi’s culinary creations every day is an even greater one.
Jen’s days are now spent managing Riva’s front of house, hosting culinary tours in Emilia-Romagna, catering boutique private events and raising her family.