"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.