Major Food Group is on a roll. The hospitality company founded by Jeff Zalaznick, Mario Carbone, and Rich Torrisi, best known for the Italian concepts Carbone and Torrisi, has partnered with Alta Marea Group from founder Ahmass Fakahany to open satellites of another Italian restaurant, Marea.
Some are wondering why MFG, with its 50 businesses around the world, would need another Italian brand.
“Marea is the best Italian seafood restaurant in the world,” says Zalaznick in a press release, “and a place to which Mario, Rich, and I have a deep personal connection. We couldn’t be more honored to begin this new chapter with Ahmass and the legendary Marea.”
There are few crossover items on Marea’s luxury menu, which has entire sections devoted to caviar and white truffles, along with casarecce with lump crab and sea urchin; fusilli with braised octopus and bone marrow; and red prawn tartare with fennel.
Of the partnership, Fakahany told Eater, “We both approached this potential partnership with Marea from a position of strength and a total open mind towards the possibilities.“
Since opening in 2009, Marea still has luster, having hosted everyone from Lady Gaga to Barack Obama. In 2020 it lost one of its two Michelin stars, and the other in 2022. Chef Michael White left in 2021. While Marea was closed for several months for renovations last summer, White announced he would soon open his own restaurant at 520 Madison, in partnership with Tishman Speyer.
Meanwhile, PJ Calapa and Lauren DeSteno, longtime chefs under White who have been part of the team that earned Michelin stars, took over the kitchen at the Marea flagship in Midtown, which, along with the outpost due to open in Beverly Hills this year, won’t be part of the new Major Food Group partnership.
One city that is on the Major Food Group expansion plan is Miami, where MFG already has quite a footprint; the New York Times reports that the first Marea expansion is likely Miami. In addition to packed restaurants Contessa and Chateau ZZs there, Major Food Group is building a residential skyscraper on the beach, called Villa Miami, with a helipad on the roof and a name restaurant below that will provide room service to the residents. Pre-construction prices start at $4,800,000.
It’s not the first Major Food Group partnership with an existing restaurant, with the group joining Eyal Shani’s HaSalon, from Tel Aviv, in the opening of its Miami location.