Chef News

Joey Maggiore of Cuttlefish: "We Try to Keep Things as Authentic as We Can"

Joey Maggiore Owner Cuttlefish 573-202-3044

This is part one of our interview with Joey Maggiore, owner of Cuttlefish in Scottsdale and son of one of the Valley's most famous Italian chefs, Tomaso Maggiore. Today, we're chatting about why he chose the name Cuttlefish. Don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out what two new restaurant concepts he's opening this year.

See also: 10 Most Anticipated Metro Phoenix Restaurant Openings in 2014

"I was born into the business," says Joey Maggiore. "I couldn't get out if I wanted to, like the mafia."

It's in his blood, for sure. Maggiore is a trained chef, successful restaurateur, and the son of one of the city's best-known Italian chefs. His father, Tomaso Maggiore, has owned Tomaso's in Phoenix for more than 30 years and has had numerous restaurants in the Valley and in California. All in all, Maggiore reckons his family has owned more than three dozen restaurants over the years -- though he estimates they have fewer than 10 at the moment.

Maggiore was born in New York but spent most of his childhood in Arizona. He moved to Southern California after a stint at Scottsdale Culinary Academy to work at one of his family's restaurants in San Diego and eventually opened his own place, Joey's Smokin' BBQ, in 2009. He moved back to the Valley last August with his wife and kids to open Cuttlefish, a restaurant concept he said he'd been working on for about a year.

He describes the new restaurant as "loud, fun, energetic, and crazy" and is meant to be a more modern, casual take on Italian seafood. And when you meet Maggiore, you can see the eatery's vibe reflects that of its owner. The name, too.

"It's my favorite thing to eat," Maggorie says of cuttlefish -- that's the rather unattractive cephalopod you might be familiar with in dried form; it's a popular Asian snack.

"We call it seppia," Maggorie says (he even does that stereotypical Italian hand gesture).

At Cuttlefish, you can get seppia prepared three different ways, including as cuttlefish-inked risotto with prawns. The restaurant gets fish flown in six times a week from Spain and Italy.

"We try to keep things as authentic as we can," he says.

Right down to the marinara sauce, which is made using a secret family recipe. So secret, Maggiore says, that he makes the employees leave the kitchen while it's being made.

What would your personal theme song be if you had one?: I'd say either "Eye of the Tiger" or "Staying Alive." Just picture my eyes closed tight, head bobbing to either song.

One thing most people don't know about you: I never take my chains off! Never. I'm Italian!

One movie you think everyone should watch and why: A Bronx Tale. I think it teaches people about respect. It reminds me of how I grew up in an Italian American household.

Favorite childhood food memory: My nona Sarina's arancini "rice balls" and her fried eggplant with mint. Whenever I eat those two dishes, it brings the memory of her back to life.

Favorite food smell: Fresh shaved truffles. The smell is priceless.

Biggest pet peeve: I can't stand it when people don't keep their word. Trust is everything.

Five qualities to look for in good Italian food: I think it's authenticity for each region, proper sauces for each type of pasta, al dente, San Marzano tomatoes, and excellent EVOO.

Your favorite drink and where you like to get it: My favorite drink is here at Cuttlefish. I love the cherry wood-smoked Manhattan. Solid.

Check out our past Chef and Tell interviews with: James Porter - Super Chunk Sweets and TreatsJames Porter - Petite Maison Cullen Campbell - Crudo Mel Mecinas - Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North Meagan Micozzi - Scarletta Bakes Tyson Holzheimer and Joe Strelnik - Snooze, an A.M. Eatery Paul McCabe - T. Cook's at the Royal Palms Eugenia Theodosopoulos - Essence Bakery Cafe Eddie Hantas - Hummus Xpress Jay Bogsinke - St. Francis Dustin Christofolo - Quiessence Blaise and DJ Aki - The Sushi Room Sacha Levine - Rancho Pinot and FnB Andrew Nienke - Cafe Monarch Kevin Lentz - French Grocery Aurore de Beauduy - Vogue Bistro Justin Olsen - Bink's Midtown Marco, Jinette, and Edmundo Meraz - Republica Empanada Brian Peterson - Cork Brian Webb - Hey Joe! Filipino Street Food Lester Gonzalez - Cowboy Ciao Renetto-Mario Etsitty - Tertio German Sega - Roka Akor Marco Bianco - Pizzeria Bianco Brad and Kat Moore - Short Leash Hot Dogs and Sit...Stay

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria