Joe Italiano, founder of the legendary Joe Italiano’s Maplewood, named the restaurant after the magnificent maple tree that towered over the Hammonton property where it all started. With all its strength and beauty, and, I’m sure, untold history, that tree became the restaurant’s identity. Although the tree is now gone, its contribution is forever established in Maplewood’s heritage. And the cornerstone of that heritage is the famous Joe Italiano, proprietor James (Jimmy) Italiano’s grandfather, who founded Joe Italiano’s Maplewood Inn in 1945. But, according to Jimmy, it was his father, Joe Italiano, Jr., who made the restaurant famous.
An old Navy vet, Jimmy’s father Joe Italiano earned his stripes in the kitchen! And he brought the art of Italian home cooking to the Maplewood. He endeared himself to the community and established a legacy offering authentic Italian cuisine, freshly made pasta, and signature seafood creations. “That’s why—for nearly 75 years, now—we’re known as the legendary Joe Italiano’s Maplewood,” says Jimmy.
Just like the bus stop it once was, Maplewood has become the destination of many shore travelers, endearing itself to visitors all over the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
Two symbols of strength and longevity—the maple tree and Joe Italiano—reflect the revered tradition of family… that is, relatives Italian-style… which means after a few visits, you’re quickly part of one big happy family. That’s how it is in Hammonton and Mays Landing. “And we’re looking forward to growing our big happy family in Moorestown, too,” Jimmy says.
Just like the tree that bears its name, Joe Italiano’s Maplewood possesses a long history… a history of traditions people love—good food, good company, and good times.
A Family Affair
“We love what we do. So, our secret ingredient is TLC [tender loving care]. Really. We take customer satisfaction seriously,” says Robin Italiano, co-owner and wife of Jimmy Italiano. “We care about our guests. We’re not just bringing consistently good Italian food to the table, but also a long-held family tradition of dedication to exceptional hospitality, Italian-style!”
For regulars, Joe Italiano’s Maplewood is home away from home—the place to go where everybody knows everybody else—one big happy family. “We embrace a love for customer satisfaction,” says Jimmy. “That’s why we don’t hesitate to put the Italiano family name on the marquee!”
“But it’s the consistently delicious fare that keeps people coming back,” says Robin.
Authentic Italian Cuisine
Joe Italiano’s Maplewood has earned awards for its unrivaled authentic Italian cuisine—its signature seafood creations served over its popular freshly made pastas, not to mention its celebrated meatballs in the unique-to-Maplewood red sauce, a.k.a. gravy!
The menu delights any palate. From appetizers, sauces, soups, and sides to pasta, seafood, chicken, steak and veal, you won’t be disappointed. But, as South Jersey’s favorite family-owned Italian restaurant, Maplewood is renowned for its classics. Jimmy’s father, the locally famous Joe Italiano, introduced Maplewood white sauce to his seafood creations, revolutionizing the way the Maplewood served seafood and pasta. “He started a craze for it back in the 50s and 60s that continues today,” Jimmy says.
With a love for great Italian food, Maplewood guests don’t hesitate to make their favorites known. The most beloved dishes include chicken and veal parmigiana, freshly made pasta with classic Maplewood meatballs in unique-to-Maplewood red sauce (gravy), quintessential spaghetti and crab, ravioli like your Italian grandmother makes, and, not least, Joe’s Special, a signature dish chock full of fresh local seafood. Why so beloved? The chefs prepare them in the unique-to-Maplewood style. What’s the unique-to-Maplewood style? “That’s our secret,” says Robin.
Jimmy and Robin
“I was born and raised at the Maplewood,” says Jimmy. “From dishwasher to busboy and waiter to cook, and, eventually, proprietor… I’ve lived this legend from infancy.” The history Jimmy inherited became a legacy that he’ll pass along to his own children, four of whom already work at the restaurant. Son Jimmy, a culinary school graduate, cooks at the Hammonton location along with Jimmy and Robin’s other son, Joseph. Their son, Jeremy, serves in Hammonton while their son, Justin, currently working in Mays Landing, will move to open the Moorestown restaurant in December 2018. Robin, too, started her restaurant career at the Maplewood. In fact, it’s where Jimmy and Robin met.
“I’ll never forget my first day,” Robin explains. “It was probably the busiest day of the year at the restaurant. For me, it was baptism by fire!” Robin believes it was divine providence, “Certainly, it was the beginning of two long relationships,” she says. “One with Jimmy and one with the restaurant—both of which have been quite fruitful over the years with five children and three locations.”
“I’ve experienced the advent of many Maplewood classics,” Jimmy says. “Uncle Nino’s, Joe’s Special, Robin’s Chicken, and Eleanor’s Special, to name a few. All created and named to honor the favorite tastes of relatives and loyal customers. “It’s a reflection of the past with a message for the future: Continue to grow but remain true to your roots, “ says Jimmy.
“Jimmy and I have embraced the future,” Robin says. “We love serving, we love people, and we love good Italian cuisine.” She adds, “So, now, with three locations—Hammonton, Mays Landing, and Moorestown (at the Mall)—we’re sharing the love.” Jimmy chimes in, “It’s a family affair… the chefs, the wait-staff, and our guests.”