Mario Carbone grew up in Queens, New York, surrounded by Italian food: the northern culinary traditions preserved by his maternal grandparents and the Sicilian abbondanza that defined his father’s side of the family. He worked at local eateries in his spare time, gaining a love for the professional kitchen, and went on to earn a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, Mario honed his skills at several formidable establishments, such as the New York City trailblazers Babbo and Lupa; La Dogana, a family-run restaurant in Tuscany; wd-50, from modern master Wylie Dufresne; and Café Boulud, Daniel Boulud’s temple to classic French cuisine.
It was at Café Boulud that Mario reconnected with an old pal from culinary school, Rich Torrisi, planting the seed for the idea the two would make real five years later, in 2009: Torrisi Italian Specialties. Built with a modest investment from friends and family, that small Little Italy restaurant turned into the talk of the town. When one enthusiastic regular, Jeff Zalaznick, became a partner, Major Food Group was born.
In the decade since, MFG has become a powerhouse with over 30 highly acclaimed restaurants around the globe, including Mario’s namesake concept, Carbone, which redefined the midcentury Italian restaurant for a new era. The partnership between the three friends is highly collaborative, but over the years Mario has developed a special interest in creative direction, curating music and wardrobe, selecting china and glassware, and overseeing graphic design.