Going with the tried-and-true flow has never been in chef and restaurateur Joey Maggiore’s DNA.
He’s got a revered pedigree with his father the late Tomaso Maggiore, whose namesake Italian venue has been a beloved Phoenix destination for more than four decades, as his teacher and business partner.
But, the mind behind Hash Kitchen has always had a bit of a rebellious streak, restaurant-concept wise.
“I was always the black sheep because I had these crazy ideas. My dad would say, ‘Would you just stay with what we know?’” Joey says with a hearty chuckle. “I’m one of those guys who has to change it.”
The unorthodox thinking has paid off.
Along with his wife Cristina, Joey helms the family empire The Maggiore Group, which has merged good food and service with out-of-the-box thinking and a social media presence that’s created a cult following for its thriving restaurants.
The Maggiores will soon add to their restaurant family of 12 with two new additions: The Rosticceria and The Italiano, both slated for opening dates over the next few months.
The Rosticceria beckons Italy’s side street vendors’ porchetta, Sicilian sausage, and Italian rubs thanks to Arizona's first Italian-style wood-fired grill and rotisserie meats. Fun sides of mini-lasagna and polenta fries accompany a build-your-own gelato shake bar will appeal to all ages with booze and booze-free options. Petite cannolis and Italian cookies are among the 50-ish accouterments.
With a casual yet refined vibe, The Italiano conjures the original Tomaso’s authentic regional cuisine. It will offer a fresh take on a generational favorite, with interactive touches like a build-your-own antipasti cart that arrives tableside.
This concept is a tribute to Tomaso himself.
“All those tiring days in the kitchen, him yelling and showing me how to do food properly … this one is a kiss to him,” Joey says.
Does such an ode come with additional pressure?
“It’s more heartwarming. I’ve cooked this food my whole life and it’s exciting to bring that back. But it is a little nerve-wracking. So many people for 40 years went to my dad’s restaurant. I want them to come here and say it’s the same … or a little better,” Joey says.
Since Joey, Cristina, and Tomaso formed The Maggiore Group in 2016, it has claimed an enviable slice of the Valley’s restaurant scene. It’s responsible for multiple locations of Hash Kitchen and The Sicilian Butcher, each of which is adjacent to The Sicilian Baker, and Tomaso’s.
The Mexicano, the most recent spot, offers the same showstoppers with a BYO margarita bar, a 3-foot Machete quesadilla, and a guacamole and salsa Ferris wheel.
“We always bring the build-your-own component. We like to be as fun and out-of-the-box as we can,” Joey says.
And with its audacious build-your-own bloody Mary bar, Hash Kitchen started it all.
Unabashedly flaunting more than 50 toppings, customers are enticed to play with their drink—and food. Think fried ravioli, meatballs, pickled eggs, and other jaw-dropping add-ons.
However, its conception was a practical solution amid a quick transformation from their former restaurant Cuttlefish into the first Hash Kitchen. Unsure what to do with the oyster bar, a bloody Mary bar was the spontaneous answer.
This addition would end up putting them on every social media map as it was tailor-made for Instagram before “Instagrammable'' was a thing.
Joey credits Hash Kitchen with changing how his family does business in a competitive industry.
“It gives customers something to talk about,” he says. “But never in our wildest dreams did we think it would end up like this.”
It also showed the perks of not following every rule.
“The loud music, drinking alcohol during the day … it was all the things you're told, ‘No,’” Joey says.
Joey produces the menus and recipes for all restaurants. The Sicilian Butcher’s dishes are family recipes executed in a fun craft meatball setting. The Sicilian Baker’s lineup of treats is made the way Joey was taught growing up.
“This cooking we've been doing all our lives. It’s our heritage. It brings up memories of my grandma making pasta,” Joey says.
And it’s not going unnoticed.
A first-time Sicilian Baker customer who lives in Chicago but hails from Sicily ordered Cassatina, a Sicilian sponge cake with marzipan and cannoli cream that’s not common outside of Italy. She hadn’t had it since her grandmother’s back home and was overcome with joy.
“She had tears in her eyes. It’s amazing that you can do that through food,” he says.
Another vivid memory from his childhood explains why Joey does what he does.
“When my dad made a dish and walked it to the table and those people’s eyes would light up … it’s the most amazing thing,” he says. “When you can make people do that, I think that’s what all chefs want.” MaggioreGroup.com