Mays Landing, NJ
Let’s face it; a summer at the shore just wouldn’t be the same without a visit to one of the Maplewood restaurant locations — in Hammonton or Mays Landing — to enjoy their classic Italian specialties. Not many area restaurants can say they’ve been around for 70 years of success, and this local favorite shows no signs of slowing down.
The Maplewood in Hammonton was the brainchild of Joseph Italiano Sr. He and his wife Josephine purchased the property in 1945, and began serving classic home-style meals. In the 1960s, their son Joe Italiano and wife Eleanor took over the restaurant operations, and today, the Hammonton restaurant is owned by Joe Italiano's son, James Italiano, known to everyone as “Jimmy.” He and his wife Robin have lovingly kept the family traditions alive and thriving, expertly serving authentic Italian food to southern New Jerseyans and countless visitors. Jimmy’s sister, Linda, and brother, Tommy, honor the family recipes and keep the passion alive at the Maplewood II in Mays Landing.
After enjoying many years of unparalleled success, Joe Italiano passed away in 2014, yet his memory lives on in the delicious recipes prepared fresh daily; and especially in “Joe’s Special,” a favorite menu item among the regulars. Consisting of a combination of shrimp, clams, mussels, crab, and scungilli, simmered in natural juices, “Joe’s Special” is served in a white sauce over housemade spaghetti.
Joe Italiano will be forever remembered for his commitment to bringing white seafood sauce to the world. This culinary innovator took a chance at a time when red sauce was solely used over pasta. His steadfast intuition paid off — history was soon made — and white seafood dishes swiftly became a staple of the Maplewood menu.
“[Local restaurant guru] Ed Hitzel called my father the most important culinary figure in South Jersey,” revealed Jimmy. “My father
also made mussels popular in the area. Mussels were something people would just eat at home. He started serving them, and now they are on everyone’s menu.”
Along with the Italian classics — like spaghetti and meatballs, veal parmigiana, and spaghetti and clams — the Maplewood is also known for their scrumptious steak and chicken dishes as well. Guests enjoy carefully house-prepared dishes overflowing with freshness and a loving preparation. The family’s high standards have always been the driving force behind the success of the Maplewood name.
“Our secret to success is consistency,” explains Jimmy. “When you come to the Maplewood, you know what you are going to get. It is going to be good and it’s going to be fresh. That’s what most people count on.”
And after eight decades, the compliments from newcomers and locals alike show no signs of slowing down. Rave reviews about the excellent food and atmosphere abound on countless restaurant review websites, further proving that the warm traditions and personality of family-owned restaurants rank high in customer satisfaction.
When asked of future plans, Jimmy simply replied, “To continue to do what we do.” And with the fourth generation of Italianos now involved in the restaurants, it looks like this delicious family tradition is slated to continue for another 70 years.