Jeff Zalaznick, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone.
Jeff Zalaznick, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone
Co-founders at Major Food Group
Many restaurateurs around the country are still putting the pieces back together after the pandemic. Major Food Group, on the other hand, is taking things to new levels.
In fact, Jeff Zalaznick and his two partners, chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, started their expansion to South Florida in 2020. The company recently opened Contessa, an Italian restaurant launched in Boston, in a two-story corner building in Miami’s Design District. It’s the third establishment that Major Food Group has brought to the block, which also includes a members-only space called ZZ’s Club that will soon be expanded to twice its current size, as well as a Sadelle’s brunch spot with retailer Kith.
“We wanted to create our idealized version of a Northern Italian glamorous enoteca,” Zalaznick told Commercial Observer in October. “We wanted to celebrate the whole region from Florence all the way to the north of the country.”
Last April, Major Food Group celebrated the opening of the newest edition of French steak house Dirty French in Brickell. It’s particularly noteworthy because it was the 17th restaurant the company had opened in 16 months. It ended a run that started with the firm’s signature Carbone, a celebrity hotspot in Miami Beach, in January 2021, which also takes advantage of the growing number of relocating New Yorkers flocking to South Florida — just like Major Food Group did.
The run of 17 restaurants didn’t even include expanding to Dallas, building a private supper club at Miami’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix last year, and partnering with Israeli chef Eyal Shani of HaSalon.
But now everything has come full circle. Major Food Group has returned to where it all started in Lower Manhattan to reopen Torrisi Italian Specialities. Zalaznick had worked as an investment banker for JPMorgan and then as a manager at the Mandarin Oriental, before he developed restaurant websites. (He’s also a member of the Milstein real estate dynasty through his mother.) Then Zalaznick met Carbone and Torrisi at the cult favorite Torrisi restaurant in 2010 and formed Major Food Group.. —G.C.