Tomaso Maggiore, culinary legend, dies at 73

Business News | 1 Feb |

The Maggiore Group is deeply saddened to announce today the passing of its founder and patriarch, Tomaso Maggiore. Tomaso has been a culinary hero in the Valley for more than four decades, opening his first restaurant alongside his wife Patricia, Tomaso’s Italian Restaurant, in September of 1977 on the Camelback Corridor. Tomaso has launched more than 50 restaurants between Arizona and California, served over two million customers, created 27,000 jobs and stirred up more than 49,000 pots of his famous marinara, something he enjoyed personally making every morning until his last days.

Tomaso was born and raised in Sicily, the southern region of Italy and is a true example of the American dream with the culinary empire he created. With his relentless hard work and the goal of bringing authentic Italian cuisine to Arizona, Tomaso gained the hearts and palates of supporters all over the region and nation. A true titan, Chef Tomaso Maggiore has personally impacted and inspired the lives of so many and made a positive impact on the entire Arizona food scene. He always treated his guests like family and enjoyed nothing more than sharing his love for great food with the community. Tomaso’s passion was cooking and making lasting memories with exceptional dining experiences. He was a welcoming host who only cared about serving quality cuisine as though his guests were at his own dinner table. He often visited vegetable farms locally, across the country, and in Europe to source fresh ingredients for his entrees while also adopting the latest cooking techniques to incorporate the true essence of Italy in every bite, making sure his guests enjoyed only the finest meals.

“Tomaso was not only my father, but my idol and his love and passion for the restaurant industry, cooking and Sicily will continue to live on through our restaurants,” said Joey Maggiore, executive chef of The Maggiore Group. “It is my goal to honor his legacy and make him proud with amazing restaurants and delectable food. He is the greatest father, chef and friend that I have ever known and I will love and miss him dearly, forever.”

Well known for his vibrant personality, sense of humor, selflessness and kind heart, he has led and conceptualized several Valley favorites alongside his son including, Hash Kitchen, The Sicilian Butcher and The Sicilian Baker. He also had an affinity for fine wine and created his own Southern Italy Red, Luxus Reserva, made from grapes sourced from his vineyard in Sicily. He was extremely passionate about his hometown and frequently led trips overseas to share the experience with others. An eternal optimist, he always looked at the bright side and never lost hope which led him to sustain his restaurant empire for over 40 years even through obstacles and recessions. Though he saw great success in his career, he always remained humble and never lost the passion for personally leading his kitchens or rolling one of his famous meatballs.

“My father was my hero and inspiration for all I do. My love for food, travel, people and the joy a great meal can bring to your life is derived from the example my father set for me,” said Melissa Maggiore, who is also fondly known as the female version of Tomaso. “I will be sure to live the rest of my life honoring his memory, continuing his legacy and making him proud. His absence in my life will be forever profound”

Melissa will soon be opening a concept appropriately named, The Italian Daughter, on Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale Road and will pay homage to the memory of her father.

Tomaso has received countless awards over the years including “Best Italian Restaurant” in the Valley for several decades, Arizona Restaurant Association’s “Food Pioneer Award,” dozens of top chef awards and more. He has been featured in news outlets across the nation and is highly regarded for his authentic approach to true Sicilian cuisine. The Maggiore family, spearheaded by his children Joey and Melissa,  will continue to operate Tomaso’s iconic Italian institution and honor his legacy.

Tomaso is survived by his wife Patricia, son Joey Maggiore and his wife Cristina, daughter Melissa Maggiore Meyer and her husband Kevin, and five grandchildren – Marcella, Guiliana, Tomaso, Melina and Francesco. His family was his greatest joy in life and being able to operate his empire with those he loved around him was a dream come true.

The family will launch The Tomaso Maggiore Culinary Education Scholarship in his honor and kindly requests that any monetary donations be held for this purpose. More details will be provided over the coming weeks. The family would also like to send a special thanks to Susan and Bill Levine with Hospice of the Valley for the amazing Celestial Care provided to Tomaso during his final days.

For more information, visit  tomasos.com or maggioregroup.com.

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