Chefs Bio

Born in Southern Italy, Owner and Chef Raffaele Virgillo is the youngest of 9 kids. He was the baby, which meant he was the lucky one who got to spend the most time with his Mama in the kitchen. It was there, in a tiny cottage in a mountain village, that he learned that the only thing that makes food so special is the amount of affection you cook into it. You see, in Italy, they use only the freshest ingredients to prepare food for the people they love.
Then, he came to the United States in the early 1970’s to live the “American Dream” , that in a land of opportunity, anything is possible with hard work. He first established himself in the Twin Cities restaurant scene in 1980, with “Raffaele’s Supper Club” in Fridley. He earned a great reputation for wonderful food with a pleasant dining experience. Then, a few years later, he opened up a breakfast and luncheon eatery in the Minneapolis Skyway called “Sarducci’s”. After that, he spent time up in Duluth, Minnesota, inspired by the Palucci family and with mentor Andy Borg in the Grandma’s Corporation. On the North Shore, he was involved in the development and opening of “Bellisio’s Wine Bar” in Canal Park. He wanted to return to the Twin Cities because that is where he made his home with his 2 daughters and small hobby farm. That’s when the original “Buona Sera” was born. It was Raffaele’s thought that a warm, cozy atmosphere in his home neighborhood would be the perfect venue to share his passion of good Italian cuisine with his love of people. Luna Rossa is his newest concept, launched in the historic Stillwater caves. Chef Raffaele is also famous for chatting with his customers, and making sure that his mama would be proud of his food.
He looks forward to meeting and serving you, along with his children, Daughters Tina and Anna, and son-in-law Jesse, and his friendly staff.