Joey Campanaro was raised in an Italian-American household in Philadelphia where the food of his childhood inspired him to make cooking his vocation. With a culinary approach firmly rooted in his Italian grandmother’s kitchen and honed in a range of America’s top restaurants, Joey brings a lifelong affinity for Mediterranean cuisine to every dish he creates.
As a dishwasher at a seasonal restaurant on the Jersey Shore, he was instantly hooked by the fraternal, energetic nature of restaurant life. While majoring in restaurant management at Penn State, Joey spent an inspiring semester in Italy, studying early Etruscan architecture and culture and exploring the bounty of the country’s simple and deeply satisfying food. A few years later Joey traveled to France, where he studied winemaking and further developed his skills with Mediterranean cuisine.
When he returned home, Joey began to cook the pure, uncomplicated flavors he’d learned to use while in Europe. His pursuit took him to restaurants in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York, where he worked alongside esteemed chefs Neil Murphy, Joachim Splichal, Jimmy Bradley and Jonathan Waxman. While in Los Angeles, Joey was also chef de cuisine of Universal Studio’s Executive Dining Room and the proprietor of his own Hollywood-based catering company.
In 2001, Joey moved back to New York to open The Harrison in Tribeca. As executive chef, Joey’s devotion to the kitchen won the hearts of New York diners and, in December 2001, a two-star review from The New York Times. In 2004, Joey became the executive chef of an Italian restaurant in Tribeca called Pace. After Pace, Joey re-opened his catering business, Blackfoot Consulting, and set out to open the restaurant he had always dreamed of opening – Little Owl, which has since received wide acclaim from critics and guests alike, including a two-star review from The New York Times, appearances on everything from Iron Chef America to the Today Show and the Martha Stewart Show, and a continued buzz as one of New York’s most exciting restaurants.
Even with the success of Little Owl (and its sister restaurant Market Table at which Joey is partners with owner Mike Price), Joey continues to cater and consult for some of the biggest names in the country, including Martha Stewart, Mike Piazza, NBC Universal, Conde Nast Publishing, Levity Live. His enthusiasm, professionalism, and, of course, his cooking make him a one of the most sought after food personalities in New York. In the spring of 2010, when Mike Price expressed interest in opening a new place at 420 Hudson, it was an easy decision to continue the professional relationship and join forces once again to bring another special restaurant to Greenwich Village.
Joey cooks the food he loves, focusing on the freshest seasonal ingredients combined with the bold, rich flavors of the Mediterranean and a few tricks he learned from his grandmother.