Matching Up With the Marinis: Modesto Marini on His Legacy and Mira Marini’s Continuation of It

A story of a father and his eldest daughter.

Family is a weird but wonderful thing. Some days you bicker and some days you laugh over the silliest thing—but at the end of the day, there’s nothing there but love. The Marini family is no different, and watching the blended family of Italian and Chinese heritage—with both cultures known to be expressive and exuberant—we couldn’t help but feel that it never gets lonely in the Marini household. With Modesto Marini and his eldest daughter Mira on set alongside Elizabeth Marini, the matriarch of the family keeping things moving along, the day was set to be an interesting one.  

The Marini name is an iconic one in Kuala Lumpur, to say the least, identifiable by the swanky Marini’s on 57. Family patriarch Modesto Marini has spent the last 29 years in Malaysia carving a name for himself in the local food and beverage (F&B) industry from his previous venture, Modesto’s, to The Marini’s Group, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down. “I have always challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and to see the bigger picture,” he told GRAZIA Malaysia. “When the location at Level 57, Petronas Tower 3 was shown to me, I could see the potential of the space becoming a world-class, rooftop dining, and entertainment outlet instantly. I was informed that several parties who had been shown the space rejected the space and even key industry players told me the idea would not work. However, I was determined with my idea and proposed it to the KLCC properties management team, promising them that I would turn this building into a destination. The rest is history.”

History was indeed made, and Marini would go on to open more swanky dining establishments including the likes of Marble 8, Maristar, and more. “I believe that every outlet carries a part of my personality,” he said. After Marini’s on 57 opened, he mentioned that he was very keen to open a steakhouse as he loves a really good steak—hence, the opening of Marble 8. He reminisced that many parties continued to approach the group to bring in foreign brands, “But I truly believed in the strength of having our own steak cuts and traceability in our meats as we know exactly where and how our cows are bred and raised.” 

In the blink of an eye, The Marini’s Group turns 12 this year. “All the amazing and wonderful awards we have received over the years are some of the best moments for the group,” he remarked, which included getting a Michelin Select for Marini’s on 57 and Marble 8. But of course, it doesn’t end there. Marini has plans to keep the brand “shining and relevant for generations to come”. 

It has been a journey, one that Marini, alongside his wife Elizabeth and his two children has been on. Naturally, we got to talking about whether the 18-year-old Mira would be continuing on his and his wife’s legacies. “Like any parents with their own business, we would love for the younger generation to be involved and eventually keep it going but we also need to give our children the choice to be able to decide if they do want to follow in our footsteps. I will leave it to her to decide when the time comes,” he said diplomatically. 


As a proud Gen Z member, the younger Marini certainly has her own thoughts about it. Growing up, Mira never quite realised how well-known her father was in the local community. “I genuinely thought it was normal for people to go up to my dad and be like, ‘Hi, how are you?’ I thought he just knew everybody! I didn’t realise the impact he had in the F&B industry until much later when I comprehended that he runs a business and is actually doing quite well,” she laughed. 

However, what she did know was how to cook, thanks to her father’s chef background. “He taught me a lot in the kitchen. He always called me his little sous chef!” she laughed. “I really cherished those moments because now, I love cooking. I think it’s so beautiful how such simple ingredients can make the most amazing meals, and he was the one who taught me that.”

After taking a gap year, she will soon be headed to Hawaii to further her studies, where she will be doing a double major in Dietetics and Agriculture. “I would like to contribute to the agricultural scene here, especially because my dad is in the F&B industry,” she explained. “I have grown a fondness for the people working behind the scenes, and I want to contribute to how the food gets to the table as well.” She chalks this passion for health and holistic medicine to her mother, Elizabeth, who raised her on Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic treatments. The love for agriculture also relates back to her paternal grandparents who are farmers by profession, whom she often visits in Italy. 

“Seeing that [farming life] firsthand and how it helped my grandfather and uncle, I was very inspired to do that. I feel it’s a lost art at this point. All my friends that I know of, are pursuing majors like business, finance, and economics, which are all great majors. However, I feel like we also need to tie it back to nature a bit more,” she elaborated. 

As for taking over the business, Mira remarked that while it’s not totally out of the question, it was always something she saw more of her younger brother doing. “But I’ve been interning at The Marini’s Group during my gap year, and I now understand the background of the business a little better,” she said. “It’s given me a lot of new perceptions and thoughts on how we can expand the business or accommodate it.” 

That sparked her interest in pursuing a degree in Agriculture. “When it comes to F&B, a big part of it is your suppliers and the food you bring in. Quality for me and my family—and The Marini’s Group too—is the most important thing. Being able to understand the basics of that through my education in Agriculture, I feel, will help bring a more holistic experience to the group,” Mira surmised. 

Photography: Raymond Pung 
Creative Direction: PohNee Chin 
Hair & Makeup: Eranthe Loo
Photography Assistant: Teng Wong