Rising Star Chef Pino Maffeo of Restaurant L (Now Closed) - Biography

Boston, MA

November 2011

Pino Maffeo’s Italian family has always held cooking and cuisine as a top priority, so it was no wonder that this East Boston native felt a calling toward a culinary career. After graduating from Newbury Culinary College in 1991, he worked at several restaurants around the country learning the art of world cuisine from European chefs. Interested in learning the business end of the restaurant, Maffeo took a job as Task Force Chef for the Marriott Corporation. In a year and a half of working with master chef Oliver Kroft, he had opened several restaurants throughout the country.

In 1992, Maffeo drove cross-country to San Francisco. He trailed at almost every restaurant in the city before settling at one of the city’s early fusion restaurants, Café Katie. His next position was opening a restaurant called Molhern and Shackern with Laurence Vito who at the time was a spokesperson of Californian cuisine. As Chef de Partie there, Maffeo became friends with a cook who would later play a significant role in his life – Patricia Yeo. After nine months at Molhern and Shackern, Maffeo was asked to become Chef de Cuisine at San Francisco’s Inn at the Opera, where he stayed for three years during which he and the chef received “three-stars” from The San Francisco Chronicle.

After a phone call from his childhood friend Tony Susi in 1996, Maffeo moved back to Boston to join him as co-executive chef in his new venture, Sage. The restaurant, located in the city’s famous Italian haven, the North End, was an instant success. Shortly after the opening, a job opportunity opened up for Susi and he left for San Francisco. Maffeo remained as Executive Chef and for the next three years, he helped change the dining mentality of the neighborhood, bringing a new standard of cooking to Boston’s North End. Restaurant goers loved dishes such as Poached Foie Gras in Sauternes with Prickly Pear Syrup and Braised Beef Cheeks Maltagliati “Crazy Cut” Pasta. Maffeo was even asked to address a class at the nearby Radcliffe on the restaurant’s behalf.

In October 1999, Maffeo received another phone call that this time would bring him to Manhattan and alter his culinary career. Long-time friend and colleague Patricia Yeo offered him the Chef de Cuisine position at AZ. With Maffeo’s help, AZ ultimately earned three stars from The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business, and The New York Observer. Then, as Co-Executive Chef at Yeo’s second restaurant venture, Pazo, Maffeo and Yeo developed menus with Mediterranean influence. Early after Pazo’s opening in August 2002, this culinary duo earned critical raves for their inventive menus including another three stars from Crain’s New York Business. Eric Asimov (The New York Times) later praised Maffeo’s “unfettered approach,” which makes Mediterranean cuisine appear “new and exciting, full of wonderful ingredients and flavor combinations.”

In the autumn of 2003, Maffeo was tapped by Louis Boston’s owner Debi Greenberg to help revamp her restaurant (formerly Café Louis) at her acclaimed shopping destination on Newbury Street. In January 2004, Restaurant L<.was born. Within a year, Restaurant L became noted as one of Boston's brightest and most acclaimed new restaurants. Here, Maffeo featured clean, simple, and inventive cuisine with influences from Southeast Asia and Japan. In 2004, Esquire named the restaurant one of the “Best New Restaurants” of the year. In that same year, Maffeo and Restaurant L garnered several media accolades including being named one of the top ten new restaurants of the year by Travel & Leisure; one of the “best new restaurants in the world” in Robb Report’s “Best of the Best” issue; one of Boston’s best new faces by The Boston Globe Magazine, and he was also selected as one of Boston Magazine's top "tastemakers." In August 2005, Boston Magazine awarded Maffeo “Best New Chef: Up and Coming” in their annual “Best of Boston” issue, and he was awarded a 2006 Rising Stars Award by StarChefs.com. He has made several television appearances including segments on CBS' “The Early Show,” The Food Network, and PBS’s “Simply Ming.”