Celebrated chef Michael Maroni died unexpectedly at age 57 Friday, March 8, while swimming in an indoor pool. One week later, his namesake restaurant in Northport resumed operations to the rhythm of the rock ’n’ roll music that he loved.
“Maroni’s is open,” said wife Maria Maroni. “Not only our doors but our hearts. Mike always said, ‘Maroni’s is not just business … it’s a beating heart.’ That’s what everyone feels when they come through these doors, not only amazing food and service … but love. Not only will that continue, but that heart will beat stronger and better than ever to make Mike proud. The beat goes on … come and see for yourself. If I can do it … so can you. Love wins.”
Operations will continue with the same six chefs that have been cooking in the kitchen since Maroni Cuisine was established in 2001. The dining room and kitchen staff, Maria said, are committed to carrying on the legacy.
The spot gained renown for both its menu-less, gourmet tasting meals and its hotpots of meatballs, prepared from the 110-year-old family recipe of Michael’s grandmother. The meatballs are served in cherry red enamel crockpots that are available for take out in a variety of sizes.
The novel idea of serving fine cuisine alongside good home cooking became a quick success, Maria said, when she and her husband opened the restaurant near the harbor 19 years ago.
Just a few wooden tables are arranged in the dimly lit dining hall. Candlesticks decorate the tabletops, while rock ’n’ roll memorabilia hangs on the wall.
The couple married in 1995 and from 1997 to 2003 they owned and operated Mirepoix, a popular upscale French-American restaurant located in Glen Head, before opening a second restaurant.
Somehow they have connected with the Northport community in a special way.
“Yes, the meatballs are good, but it’s really not just about the meatballs,” said Emily Climo, who prepares floral arrangements for the restaurant. “It’s about the love.”
Lindsay Ostrander is co-owner of The Wine Cellar on Main in Northport. Her establishment offers patrons the cooking of other village restaurants, including Maroni Cuisine. She said that Maria’s eulogy for her husband was a moving, powerful and life-changing experience for her.
“I’m not sure if there’s a greater message,” Ostrander said. “Love wins.”
The original version of the story that appeared in the March 21 edition of the Times of Huntington Northport & East Northport incorrectly had the date of Maroni’s death. We apologize for the error.