Notable RestaurantsMarea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini
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Wisconsin-raised Michael White became a chef by accident, as many great chefs have. An injury at age 19 sent him into the kitchen at Chicago's Spiaggia, where he nurtured his passion for Italian cooking. Since then, White has been gathering praise like trading cards, cultivating an impressive stack of some of the city's most successful restaurants, and accolades that include many Michelin stars, and a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant for his ultra-fancy shrine to Italian seafood, Marea. White's pursuits, happily, aren't confined to the white tablecloth type (take for example his East Village pizza spot, Nicoletta) but his best are, and truly, it's hard to imagine Italian food in Manhattan without him.