PHOENIX — From French toast dishes and pancakes that could rival desserts at Hash Kitchen, to craft meatballs and pasta at The Sicilian Butcher, and then build-your-own cannolis at The Sicilian Baker, restauranteur Joey Maggiore likes to go big when it comes to his food and menus.
A quick glance at any of his restaurants' Instagram feeds will prove that.
And with his latest project, he's stepping away from Italian food and venturing towards Mexican cuisine but keeping the over-the-top flair that his other concepts have become known for.
Over the summer, Maggiore plans to open The Mexicano, his take on Mexican cuisine, near Cactus Road and Tatum Boulevard in Phoenix, in the former Salty Sow restaurant building.
"All my restaurants we do Instagram-worthy, fun foods that taste good, and we're doing the same thing here. So it's something that it's not going to be your average Mexican place that you go into," he told ABC15 on Thursday.
Here are some of those Instagram-worthy dishes he has planned:
- Lava Rock Fajitas: caramelized onions, peppers, tomatoes, Mexican rice, cannellini bean refrito, crema, avocado, and fresh warm tortillas served on a sizzling lava stone. Choice of chicken asada, filet mignon, grilled vegetables, Chipotle agave shrimp, or mix of filet and chicken
- Machetes: Four-foot quesadillas made from corn masa tortilla and filled with Oaxaca cheese, green salsa, and choice of protein or vegetable
- al pastor for 2: ancho marinated pork, grilled pineapple, pico de gallo, crema, salsa, and warm tortillas (served tableside)
- Smokin' Grouper Ceviche: citrus poached, serrano chili, cucumber, red onion, sea salt, coconut, and watermelon served in half of a coconut with dry ice.
- Pinata Margarita: An 80-ounce margarita served alongside a mini pinata filled with candy.
The menu also features more than a dozen tacos, enchiladas, burritos, soups, and salads.
Some of the planned specialties include pork carnitas, Chile relleno, and "de Tomaso," which is a chicken and filet mignon dish.
Maggiore said the restaurant will also have a build-your-own Michelada bar --- reminiscent of the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at Hash Kitchen -- with Mexican beer, infused tequilas, and some 40 toppings, such as oysters, shrimp cocktail, pickled jicama, dry chorizo, tamarindo sticks, and habañero cheese.
The restaurant will also have a large patio with enough capacity to seat 500 people, he said. On the weekends there will be a DJ and Mariachi.
Demolition has started and construction will soon follow, he said. No opening date yet, but as long as construction stays on schedule, he hopes to open over the summer.
It was also one of the last projects that he and his dad, well-known Valley chef Tomaso Maggiore worked on together. Tomaso Maggiore died earlier this year after a nearly two-year battle with cancer.
"My father, God bless him, he was excited. 'Like, what are you gonna do with a Mexican place?'" said Joey Maggiore. "But he loved Mexican food. So this was in honor of him."
Tomaso's daughter, and Joey's sister, Melissa Maggiore is also opening her own restaurant in tribute to her father. "The Italian Daughter" opens Friday, April 16, in north Scottsdale. That restaurant will feature some of Tomaso's Italian recipes, as well as classic Italian dishes, various pastas, and meat and cheese boards.
Visit www.themexicanocomida.com for more information.