By Rachel Howard
When life hits, you hit back harder. When life floods your restaurant, if you’re celebrity chefs Tomaso and Joey Maggiore, you take the opportunity to create a whole new dining experience.
Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen, formerly Tomaso’s When in Rome, reopened last fall with a colorful, casual take on the famed chefs’ quality-centered brand. The new kitchen boasts Tomaso’s classic dishes paired with fresh seafood and pasta made from scratch daily.
There’s no $39 veal chop caprese like at the original Tomaso’s, but it’s not fast food either. Guest can find pasta sharing boards ($7/person), creamy spaghetti rapini ($15) and Tomaso’s classic seafood stew cioppino ($29). In addition to classic recipes, all the new kitchen’s pasta is made from scratch daily.
“We say, ‘It’s made over here, but it tastes like over there,’” says the effervescent Joey. “We’re going to make this pasta as identical as possible to how they do it in Italy.”
Along with hand-crafted pasta, Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen features a full-service bar with a focus on Italian wines and cocktails and an all-day happy hour.
When in Rome opened in 2017 as a spin-off of the original Tomaso’s on Camelback Road and 32nd Street in Phoenix. It offered a Roman-inspired, high-end experience, but was more suited for special occasions than everyday dining, Joey says. Now, the formal, Roman-styled decor has been replaced with yellow and blue pastels, a nod to the colorful towns of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
“We just wanted to bring a fresh and younger, fun vibe to the Tomaso’s brand,” Joey says.
Tomaso opened his original restaurant in 1977 and has since created dozens of concepts in the Valley, San Diego and New York with his children.
“We’ve been raised in that location, that business, and we’ve kind of branched out,” Joey says. “It’s really doing what he does and trying to build on it.”
Joey, who co-founded the Maggiore Group with his father and his wife, Cristina, had just sold concepts of his own in the San Diego area when his father suggested he rejoin him in Phoenix. That reunion led to new restaurants like Hash Kitchen and the Sicilian Butcher, offering creative takes on Italian tradition.
“It brought the family back together. We love what we do, and being together doing it is more memorable,” Joey says.
When they aren’t busy running Hash Kitchen and Sicilian Butcher, Joey and Cristina help Tomaso keep his concepts up to his high standards.
“He still works out of Tomaso’s every day, but as a family, we have a friendly competition and we try to outdo each other,” Joey says. “At the end of the day, it’s all about family.”
As much as he loves the high-end dining of the Tomaso’s brand, as a father himself, Joey hopes for Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen to reach a more casual crowd.
“For me, I have three kids, so when we go out to dinner, it’s more of a casual, you know, on-the-whim-style dining,” Joey says. “But that doesn’t mean the food quality changes. It’s just your attire changes. So, on Friday nights we’d go to Tomaso’s on 32nd Street, but then the rest of the week, we’d hang out at Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen.”
The Maggiores like the response to the brand’s newest addition and plan to expand it in the Valley, Joey says.
“We wanted to make a place where you can go every day of the week and have spectacular food, but at a nice price point,” Joey says. “We’re still giving the pace, the love that Tomaso’s gives, but we put it in a more casual setting.”
Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen, 23655 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 120, Scottsdale, 480.404.6085, tomasos.com/tomasos-italian-kitchen.