Nationally-acclaimed fine-dining proprietari di ristoranti Maggiore, of Phoenix's Tomaso's and the Food Network's Family Style fame, are casting their culinary nets into the Mediterranean and reeling them in to North Scottsdale.

Owned and operated by Joey Maggiore (Tomaso Maggiore's son) and his spouse Christina, the Cuttlefish Ocean Kitchen, located in the trendy Shops at Gainey Village, plates coastal Italian cuisine with a “modern Italian flair.”  The Cuttlefish is certainly both littoral and contemporary.

Its environmentally conscious seafood is flown in daily from national and international locations. Eleven Vespa scooters are cleverly integrated into a semi-circular, raw oyster bar that glitters in the center of an “energetic and airy design-forward dining room” finished with natural woods, stones, metals, and “coastal” colors. There is also a 25-person bar and cozy corner patio.

Executive Chef Michael Dei Maggi, cordon bleu trained, is very familiar with Cuttlefish’s concept. He is the former Chef de Cuisine at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and has worked for French Master Chef Serge Backes in New London, Connecticut, the Le Bernardin in New York City, the ZuZu Spanish restaurant in Napa, California, and Northern California’s Mustards Grill.

His experience is reflected in the restaurant’s diverse menu. Starters include Shrimp with Sicilian Lemon with smoked sea salt, micro mint, and lavender ($12) and California Albacore Pine smoked with Trevisio radicchio, golden raisins and pink peppercorn Saba ($11).

The family-style tradition of Italian dining is upheld through a “Plates to Share” dishes that dole out hefty portions of offerings such as Crispy Cuttlefish in garbanzo dusted flour and lemon aioli ($12), Octopus Sopressata with grape tomatoes and Bloody Mary gelee ($14), and Live Catalina Sea Urchin with sea salt, bone marrow and herbed salad served alongside grilled bread ($13).

For those looking for more traditional plates, Pastas Fatte en Casa (house-made pastas) include Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab with Santa Barbara sea urchin, local tomatoes, basil and bread ($24), Maccheroni Alla Chitarra with Sardinian Bottarga, tomato, saffron and herb bread crumbs ($15), the house exclusive Verlasso Salmon with roman artichokes, crispy capers, lemon and white wine reduction ($26) and finally the excusite Pan Roasted Wreckfish with white bean ragu and a radish salad ($25).

Oyster bar at Cuttlefish

Oyster bar at Cuttlefish. Photo credit: Cuttlefish Scottsdale

Being of an adventurous nature, my wife and I each hopped onto a scooter and ordered a sampler plate of a dozen oysters ($32) from three regions: The eastern US (Connecticut), eastern Canada (Prince Edward Island), and Western Canada (British Columbia).  The Connecticut shellfish were huge – I’m sure three would satisfy any palate – while the P.E.I offerings, although much smaller, were much more flavorful having an almost pickle taste. The B.C. fairings were buttery and similar in size to those of eastern Canada. All were ice-cold, fresh, and expertly shucked.

Oyster sampler at Cuttlefish

Oyster sampler platter at Cuttlefish. Photo by Randy Law

We were very impressed with Cuttlefish’s concept and the overall experience. Maggiore says Cuttlefish is an idea that his entire family “has always wanted to bring to life.”

“The Maggiore’s are known for our classic and loved Italian cuisine,” says Joey, “but now with Chef Dei Maggi on our team, we’re excited to open showcasing seafood dishes with modern Italian influences. We’ve crafted a menu that simply highlights and enhances the beautiful, fresh ingredients without over complicating them.”  For his part, Chef Michael agreed, saying he was very happy to be associated with the Maggiore team and loved the restaurant’s vision.

Seafood at Cuttlefish

Fresh seafood is flown in daily for diners at Cuttlefish. Photo courtesy Cuttlefish Scottsdale

Cuttlefish Ocean Kitchen, which opened in December 2013, serves lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner on the weekends.

Open Mon-Wed 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Thu-Fri 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. | Sat 3:30 – 10:30 p.m. |
Sun 3:30 – 10 p.m. | Happy Hour Daily 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. |
Wednesdays: Half off-Oysters and Champagne, 3pm-12am | @CuttlefishAZ |

8777 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85281

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