Next month, the crew behind the Tomaso's family of Italian restaurants (The Maggiore Group) will be opening a new eatery called The Sicilian Butcher. The focus will be Sicilian food. Tomaso Maggiore, the 70-year-old chef who started Tomaso's more than 35 years ago, was born in Sicily. After all these decades in the Valley and so many Italian culinary ventures, his group has never cooked Sicilian. Until now.
Tomaso's son Joey Maggiore will be executive chef. Joey grew up cooking in his dad's kitchens. He is the head chef at Hash Kitchen and president of The Maggiore Group. The Sicilian Butcher will be a tribute to his dad and a love letter to the island they both love.
"We grew up on Sicilian food at home but never had it in the restaurants," Joey says. "This is the first one."
Sicilian food is a different beast than regional Italian or red-sauced Italian American.
In terms of ingredients, pistachios, caciocavallo (cheese), fennel, pine nuts, and raisins are anchors of both The Sicilian Butcher's menu and the cuisine of the island at Italy's toe. Between arancini (fried rice balls) and panelle (fritters made from chickpea flour), Sicilian street food will be repped on the menu. So will the island's seafood dishes like tuna and cuttlefish. Lucky for us, Joey will even be firing sfincione, Sicilian pizza.
This will be a deep dive into Sicilian cuisine for those who want to take one. Joey will feature a regional kind of tuna meatball made in the village of Porticello. He'll be doing a long, corkscrew-shaped Sicilian pasta (busiate) coated in almond pesto, and a 100 percent Sicilian wine list.
There will also be more familiar offerings, dishes more akin to those of other Maggiore Group restaurants.
Meatballs and charcuterie will be centerpieces. Meatballs won't be your average 'balls. They will be made from veal, dry-aged steak, tuna, crab, lamb, and other good stuff. There will be 15 kinds. Charcuterie will feature the usual Italian suspects, including salami and prosciutto, together with cheeses, house-cured olives, and various sweet, sour, and savory condiments.
There will also be bruschetta and flatbreads, as well as a tantalizing hodgepodge of starters (including cuttlefish and those street eats). Pastas will be extruded in-house using an Arcobaleno, a new-wave machine made by a company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Arcobaleno's extruders have swept most of the top pasta kitchens in Philly and New York and are in the process of revolutionizing pasta in America.
Joey will be cutting groovy shapes like paccheri, bucatini, and spaghetti alla chitarra.
The Sicilian Butcher will open in the 3,800-square-foot space once home to Modern Grove, over on Tatum Boulevard and Greenway Road. The space will seat 150 diners and take rustic design cues from Old World butcher shops. Gigantic meat lockers will adorn a section of the brick walls, slicers will slide in view of guests, tables will be wood, and bar stools will be topped with butcher blocks.
The place's Sicilian-leaning offerings tap into waters not heavily charted in metro Phoenix. The Sicilian Butcher has intrigue and good potential. We'll update you after its doors open next month.