Pasta dishes created by award-winning local chef available at Nino's

A Greenville chef earned top honors in a recent regional pasta competition -- and local diners can order the two award-winning dishes he prepared for the judges.

Chef Massimo Mannino of Greenville's Nino's Cucina Italiana took first place in the first-ever Northeast Pasta Showdown on Oct. 18 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Mannino was one of 20 chefs invited to take part in the two-day pasta cook-off based on his previous success in culinary competitions.

On the first day of the Northeast Pasta Showdown, chefs prepared a signature pasta dish for a panel of culinary experts. "I decided to go with something simple," Mannino said in a telephone interview Oct. 23. He prepared the Linguine con Vongole -- little neck clams sautéed in a seasoned white wine garlic sauce --- that's on the menu at Nino's.

A table of ingredients was set up for the competitors on the second day, and the chefs prepared pasta dishes using those components.

Mannino created Pasta Limone, a dish with mussels, clams, shrimp and linguine in a creamy sauce with lemon zest.

Pasta Limone has been added to the Nino's menu as a special pasta entree.

Mannino earned a trophy and a monetary prize for his first-place finish. The competition was sponsored by Barilla.

Mannino and his brothers-in-law Salvatore and Pietro Passalacqua are owners and co-executive chefs of Nino's; Marabella Old World Pizza locations in Greenville and Farmville; and Marabella Italian Restaurant in Washington, NC.

Mannino and Passalacqua were invited to join the United States Pizza Team in 2016. The team is made up of 17 master pizza chefs from around the country.

Mannino was awarded second place in the 2016 International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas for Grandma's Pizza, which is available at Marabella Old World Pizza. (A press release noted that he missed first place by only 1 point.) At the same competition, Passalacqua took fourth place for his Sicilian Pizza, also a Marabella specialty.

In the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy this year, the brothers-in-law placed No. 40 out of 800 entries in the pan pizza category.

The two restaurant concepts owned by Mannino and Passalacqua and their families -- Marabella and Nino's -- together have earned the People's Choice Award for favorite dish at the annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction in Greenville for seven consecutive years.

Nino's is at 511 Red Banks Road. Reservations are accepted; call 252-689-6446.

(Photos are from the Nino's Cucina Italiana Facebook page)

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, wrote The Daily Reflector's Hot Dish restaurant column for 12 years and the Greensboro News & Record's Short Orders restaurant column for 8 years. Email her at