Now Open

From Pasta to Piñatas: Chef Joey Maggiore Opens The Mexicano in Paradise Valley

The Chicken Tinga Tacos are served on blue corn tortillas.
The Chicken Tinga Tacos are served on blue corn tortillas. The Maggiore Group
Joey Maggiore, the owner and executive chef at The Mexicano, has been cooking since he was a little boy. The Maggiore Group's restaurants, including The Sicilian Butcher and The Italian Daughter (owned by his sister, Melissa Maggiore Meyer) are testaments to that passion.

But now Joey is making a foray into Mexican cuisine by way of Paradise Valley. His newest restaurant, The Mexicano, opens at 4 p.m. on December 9. There will be margaritas in Mexican-candy-filled piñatas, a Michelada bar and 3-foot-long masa quesadillas to debut the Mexico City-inspired concept.

"In the kitchens, I was always cooking with Latin people, Mexican people, and we always spent our meal times eating Mexican food," Maggiore says. "So my favorite meal other than Italian is Mexican."

Over the years, he mingled with his Latin friends eating "spectacular food" at family and holiday gatherings. The Maggiores, including Tomaso’s Italian Restaurant founder Chef Tomaso Maggiore, who died in January, toyed with the idea of opening a Mexican restaurant for a long time. So when the building that formerly housed the Salty Sow became available, Joey decided to pull the trigger.

click to enlarge Build-your-own Micheladas, anyone? - THE MAGGIORE GROUP
Build-your-own Micheladas, anyone?
The Maggiore Group

Joey's wife, Cristina Maggiore, helped design both the indoor and outdoor spaces for The Mexicano, which are as vibrant as the oversized piñata that fronts its DJ booth: think patterned tile, an agave wall and oversized Mexican wall art. The restaurant can accommodate 500 people, including an expansive 300-seat patio.

For food, try the Machetes, 3-foot-long corn masa quesadillas served with chicken tinga, chipotle agave shrimp, braised short rib or zucchini blossoms — Joey's favorite. They come with scissors so you can share. Then, try the Smokin' Ceviche presented in a coconut shell, or the lava rock fajitas served on sizzling lava stones. Or, go for Mexican classics like the elote slathered in chipotle crema, chicken enchiladas topped with salsa verde, and an assortment of tacos.

It's a social space and the build-your-own Michelada bar reflects that, with infused tequila, Mexican draught beer and more than 40 toppings, like Tamarindo sticks, oysters and shrimp cocktail. (An ode to the BYO Bloody Mary bar at the restaurant group's Hash Kitchen? We think so.) Frozen margarita flights are also on the menu, as well as mucho tequila, and mezcal.

The Mexicano
4801 East Cactus Road
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Natasha Yee is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who likes to explore the city. She considers the thesaurus her best friend.
Contact: Natasha Yee