With Marina Blu a new restaurant dedicated to Italian cuinary excellence (strarting from pizza) has come to the centre of Berlin

«Finally people in Berlin are starting to understand the difference between a well-done, proper and healthy pizza, with a dough that has grown and raised for 48 hours and a pizza that raises in your stomach waking you up every two hours with thirst. This was the starting-point from which Marina Blu was born. I started a similar project here in Berlin at the beginning of 2000, but there we made only pizza and I was ahead of times. This time the project comes with a seafood restaurant: many recipes with fish, vegetables and pasta come from south Italy, in particular from “my” Basilicata». These are the words of Mimmo Bianco, who is also co-founder of the legendary Contadino sotto le stelle and also of its “little brother” Mozzarella Bar. Since June 2018 Mimmo has started this new and challenging adventure with his associates Axel Burbacher and Guaen Guanfeng: «We are friends before being associates: I have been knowing Alex for 25 years. We wanted to re-create in Berlin a small overview of the 60’s summers atmoshpere on the Italian seaside: the blue sky, the sun shining, the wide terraces to have aperitivo and eat together. In other words, the desire to enjoy the moment in good company».

The ingredients and the specialties of Marina Blu

«The flour we use comes from an old mill in Parma and it consists of a mix of ancient flours and gems of corn; tomatoes come from Piennolo of Vesuvio; mozzarella is either fior di latte or bufala, as far as pizza is regarded. Talking about fish, mussels come from Taranto, swordfish and tuna bresaola from Trapani and seabream, shrimps and everything else we use for deep-fried fish “cuoppo” come from different parts of south Italy, depending on availability.  And then there is pasta, always homemade and combined with specialties: caserecce alla norma, gnocchi alla sorrentina, Neapolitan ragout fusilli, paccheri with shrimps and tomatoes, black tagliolini with calamari, cuttlefish and aubergine cream and much more, varying from week to week. The menu was thought after I travelled across Italy, both in the south and in Emilia, looking for high quality suppliers. I personally do not believe in Bio-certification: I prefer going to check out what is produced and how. No coincidence that almost all wines on the menu are biodynamic. The truth is that the average level of the restaurants in Berlin has grown in the last years and, if you want your restaurant to be succesful, it is important to bet it all on high quality. In the long distance this kind of choice pays you back, as my two other restaurants show. This is not the only thing that matters, of course: the choice of the staff is also important, acknowledging their professionalism and making them feel part of the project».

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Endlich eine Lücke am Weinbergspark in Mitte geschlossen haben die Berliner Gastronomen Axel Burbacher und Guanfeng Guan. Denn Mangelware sind hier entspannte italienische Restaurants, zu denen man mit Kind und Kegel gehen kann. Und genau diesen Platz füllt nun das Marina Blu aus. Nur an ein paar Kleinigkeiten wie den neonfarbenen Lichtschnüren an der Decke sieht man noch, dass hier das Roy&Pris umdekoriert wurde, welches die beiden vormals hier betrieben. Aber asiatische Küche gab es am Weinbergsweg bereits reichlich. Trotz aller Mühe mit Dekoration und kulinarischen Finessen zog ihr erster Versuch nicht so recht. Doch jetzt ist das Konzept so simpel wie ein Strandlokal am Mittelmeer. Man sitzt auf aus Stroh geflochtenen Stuhlflächen an blau gestrichenen Tischen, und auch die Karte ist schnell erklärt. Es gibt Antipasti, Pasta, Secondi, Pizza und Dolci – wobei die allermeisten Gerichte Klassiker sind: Bei den Vorspeisen hat man etwa die Wahl zwischen Burrata mit Tomaten-Bruschetta, einer Auberginen-Parmigiana und einem Insalata di polipo con patate e olive, wobei letzterer exakt so gut wie die Summe seiner Zutaten schmeckt. Einzig überraschend ist seine Präsentation im Einmachglas. Ansonsten wird man nicht mit Schäumchen und Co beeindruckt, sondern mit einem guten Oktopus, der mit Kartoffelwürfeln, Oliven, Stangensellerie, Zitrone und Olivenöl als Salat angemacht ist. Auch an der Margarita gibt es nichts zu meckern. Der eher dicke Pizzateig hat knusprige Brandblasen im Steinofen geworfen und ist doch weich, wobei ein würziger Tomatensugo und Mozzarella die Pizza saftig machen. Die verschiedenen Pasta-Gerichte zur Auswahl gefallen ebenfalls. Klassiker wie Spaghetti Carbonara oder Gnocchi mit Tomaten und Fior di Latte – aber auch einige mit Fisch und Meeresfrüchten, die man eher seltener bekommt, finden sich hier. Probieren: Cavatelli mit Cozze und Gamber. Übersetzt heißen diese Nudeln „kleine Höhlen“, weil sie wie zusammengerollte Muscheln aussehen. Die Tomatensauce, die das Garnelen- und Muschelaroma aufgenommen hat, könnte man nicht besser in einem italienischen Dorf bekommen. @marinablu_berlin #berlin #cucinaitaliana #pizza #pasta (Foto: Markus Wächter)

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Marina Blu’s pizza

Pizza is the real queen of Marina Blu’s menu. Luca is the one who generally makes it, since he has been working as a pizzaiolo for 15 years. He prepares daily (48 hours in advance) the dough that will be prepared with both traditional (margherita, bufala, rocket and crudo, marinara, capricciosa) or creative and season-related toppings (mushrooms, figs and crudo, artichokes). We tasted margherita, THE Regina Margherita (with bufla cheese instead of fior di latte), the one with mushrooms and finally the one with piennolo tomato and pecorino cheese: all of them were truly exceptional, soft (but not too much) with a dough that is halfway between the Neapolitan and the Roman one. The final result is a joy for eyes and palate, as our photographer Stefano shows in the video below.

Mimmo Bianco’s story

Mimmo Bianco is known everywhere as one of the deans among high quality Italian restaurants in Berlin. His brother Pino Bianco (Trattoria Muntagnola), moved to Berlin in 1994, after working in gastronomy in Basilicata region and in north Italy. «I was born in Montalbano jonico, in the province of Matera. My parents owned a pizzeria there and I always had a passion for good cuisine. I spent my summers there, working, and the winters moving across north Italy, every year in a different city, to learn the secrets of regional cuisine. After some years, my 5-years-older brother opened his restaurant in Berlin and I came her to help him out. Three years later, encouraged by my flatmate of that time, I went to Mitte to have a look at a place in order to open a restaurant with my brother-in-law, Lucio Massaro. At the time nobody was offering high quality catering in Mitte, as it was still seen as a poor neighborhood, symbol of East Berlin. The first visit of the place was pretty suggestive: it was an atelier of a German artist, who lived downstairs in a coffin. We decided to buy it anyway, and that is how il Contadino sotto le stelle was born. Step by step Mitte became the most eligible neighborhood in Berlin and true Italian cuisine found there more and more Germans able to appreciate it. Marina Blu is nothing but a further step in this direction: it is true that Berlin has changed, maybe there is no longer the rebel attractiveness of the old times, but it is important that this new phase, when it comes to cuisine, is in the spirit of eating and living well.».

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Letzter Feinschliff vor der Eröffnung!

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Marina Blu

Weinbergsweg 8a, 10119 Berlino – Mitte

Open Monday-Thursday from 17.30 to 23, Friday from 17.30 to 23.30, Saturday from 13 to 23.30,Sunday from 13 to 22.

Tel.  0176 22018245

Translation edited by Euridice Comuzzi